SUNSET — This spring, 10,219 students — 20 percent of Louisiana fourth-graders — failed to meet promotion standards measured by the LEAP test, according to figures from the Louisiana Department of Education.

To better prepare its fourth-graders for the high-stakes testing, one Acadiana parish has targeted its low-performing third-graders.

Using Title I federal stimulus funds, the St. Landry Parish School System created a summer remediation program for third-graders struggling in English and math.

Last year, about 150 third-graders enrolled in the voluntary remediation program and this summer, 121 students elected to take advantage of the additional class time, said Scott Champagne, St. Landry Parish supervisor for individualized instruction.

While some districts may offer a summer school for deficiencies for students who failed the school year, no other Acadiana-area school system is offering a similar remediation program, according to information provided by other school districts.

The St. Landry Parish third-grade remediation program is more similar to another summer remediation program offered to fourth- and eighth-grade students who failed the spring LEAP test. Both remediation programs focus on math and English skills, which are the promotional standards measured by the standardized test.

The hope is that the additional reinforcement will prevent the need for students to return next summer as fourth-graders, officials said.

“It’s primary focus is to remediate students and give them that extra support to prepare them for fourth grade,” Champagne said of the third-grade program.

The third-grade classes are held across the district at sites housing LEAP summer remediation programs, which are required by the state.

On Friday at Sunset Elementary, teacher ShaRhonda Joseph enlisted helpers for an activity on counting money.

Because of the differing ability of students in her summer remediation math class, Joseph empowered students who had stronger coin-counting skills to lead a small group activity.

Joseph, who teaches third grade at Cankton Elementary, taught in the summer program last year and said she noticed how it improved her own teaching by identifying difficult concepts.

“It benefits my own students because I’m working with these students who have struggled. Now, I know where I may need to focus next year,” Joseph said.

The third-graders spend 2 1/2 hours a day on math and 2 1/2 hours a day on English language arts. Most students are enrolled in both subjects, he said.

Students are given a pre-test before the program begins, and another test at its conclusion.

Data on last year’s performance was unavailable, but Champagne said anecdotal feedback from fourth-grade teachers of the initial participants has been positive.

According to spring 2011 LEAP results, 77 percent of St. Landry Parish fourth-grade students met promotional standards compared to only 75 percent in 2010.

“It definitely has some great merit,” Champagne said of the program.

Because Title I federal stimulus grants expire at the end of June, the future of the third-grade remediation program is uncertain, Champagne said.

“If we have the funding, we would like to continue it,” he said.