This is the VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT.
Students in American schools generally attend classes from August or September until the following May or June. After that, most educational systems provide summer school.
Traditionally, if students had to attend summer school, it meant they had failed in their required schoolwork. They had to study in the summer so they could move on to the next grade in school. For example, a high school student who could not complete the requirements of a biology course would repeat the course in summer school.
Today, summer school still can mean repeating failed schoolwork. But many students now choose to attend classes during summers. For example, public high school students in Nashville, Tennessee, can study during summer school for college entrance examinations.
Many summer-school courses around the nation are popular. For example, about half of the two-thousand-four-hundred students at a high school in Illinois usually attend summer classes. These students at Evanston Township High School take subjects including art, theater and computer science. If they are old enough, they can learn to drive a car.
In subjects like chemistry, students must quickly learn material normally taught during a full school year. But summer-school official Debbie Mohica says many students like to complete some of their required high school subjects this way. Then, she says, they can elect to take other classes during the school year.
Colleges, universities and private organizations also operate summer school classes. Students at Harvard University, for example, can choose from hundreds of summer courses. Students at Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can take courses including science and languages. Or, they can study something less traditional, like "Music and Politics." This course examines how music can express political policies, protest or resistance.
Of course, there are many young people who have other ideas about how to spend their summer break. But a Washington, D-C, area mother and educator notes that competition for honors in school has increased in recent years. She says, "Going to school can be a valuable way for young people to spend a summer."
This VOA Special English EDUCATION REPORT was written by Jerilyn Watson.