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The School Year Starts On A Hot June Day For Some North Kansas City Students

Teacher in front of students gathered on floor. Elementary students raise their hands.
Sophia Tulp
KCUR 89.3
Classrooms at North Kansas City's Winnwood Elementary followed normal back-to-school procedures on June 11, with their first day falling over the summer under a year-round school system.

Students at Winnwood Elementary started a new school year with 97 degree heat and indoor recess — just one small adjustment schools make when the school year starts in June.  

Monday marked the beginning of the 2018-19 school year for Winnwood and Crestview Elementary, two North Kansas City schools that recently made the switch to a year-round schedule. By adding over a month to their academic calendars, educators were trying combat a phenomenon known as “summer slide” — the tendency to forget the material learned during the school year over the break.

Heading into the fourth year of the program, Winnwood Principal Leah Copeland said the results are visible.

“Our data was showing a huge regression in between May and August with our students,” Copeland said. “We were noticing that they would sometime regress a half of a school year, sometimes even a full school year just in those three months. We have seen just amazing results from the additional time with our students.”

Low academic performance and high poverty levels were two of the reasons the district chose Winnwood and Crestview to pilot the year-round program. At both of the schools, more than 80 percent of students qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.

Winnwood used to be one of the lowest performing schools in the district as measured by Missouri State Assessments, especially in reading and math. Now, they sit in the top third of the highest performing schools. At the state level, Missouri assigns Annual Performance Report (APR) scores to each school based on test results, student growth, attendance and graduation rates. At Winnwood, this APR score increased 30 points from before the year-round schedule was implemented in 2014 compared to 2015 after its first year in place.

The year-round schedule packs in 30 more days of curriculum in June and July, in addition to the traditional school year that runs August through May. Students begin their new grade levels in June, and by the time they leave Winnwood after sixth grade, they graduate with the equivalent of an extra year of school.

“We have quite a bit of transiency amongst our population, students turning over both within our district and outside of our district, and so that additional 30 days really allows us to help catch kids up and get them where we need them quicker,” Copeland said.

Sophia Tulp is a KCUR news intern. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_tulp.

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