Just in time for Christmas, the Department of Education today released 2011 summer school information.

More than 6,000 3rd-8th graders were unnecessarily required to attend summer school in 2011. State tests, given in May, were not scored until later in the summer so schools had to estimate which students might be held back for poor test scores. This year they over-estimated. In 2010, the DOE had the opposite problem: more than 8,500 3rd-8th graders didn’t find out they were required to take summer school until the end of July, when it was too late to attend.

Of the nearly 28,000 3rd-8th graders who actually needed to attend summer school because they scored a 1 or 2 on state reading or math tests, 67 percent were promoted to the next grade. More than a third did not pass and had to repeat a grade.

Almost 89,000 high school students attended summer school in 2011, compared to only 71,500 in 2010. Many more students were required to take summer school to prep for August Regents exams when the state Board of Regents announced in May 2011 it would cancel the 2012 January exam to close budget gaps (January Regents exams have since been reinstated).

Overall, 129,220 3-12th graders attended summer school, the highest number in at least eight years. In addition to the Regents exam false alarm, the DOE attributes the rise in numbers to tougher ELA and math exams for elementary grades.

Of course not all children assigned to summer school attended every day. Summer school attendance is typically much lower than during the school year and last summer was no exception. Daily attendance was 73 percent for grades 3-8, and 50 percent for grades 9-12, slightly lower for high school grades than in 2010.