ALIEF, Texas (KTRK) -- While most students are preparing to head back to school, more than 700 pre-kindergarten through fourth grade students in Alief ISD have already been in classrooms for nearly a month.
Bush Elementary students are taking part in a pilot program from the Texas Education Agency, where summer break lasted only a month.
There's hope it will help students retain more knowledge from last school year.
It's a critical time for educators. The most recent STAAR exam results showed, across the state, more students failed to meet their grade levels.
Last month, an education research organization found lower levels of achievement gains in reading and math.
Bush Elementary is one of a few others that was selected across the state to participate in the pilot program. It is the only school participating in the entire district.
The program has a goal to prevent the "summer slide," where students tend to forget certain skills.
With a shorter summer and more time in the classroom, the hope is the program will be a success.
"This is the first year the [Texas Education Agency] is trying this," Assistant Principal Fabiana Matturro said. "We began school Monday, July 12."
It was a short, four-week summer for all 735 students at Bush Elementary.
"The research shows a shorter summer would benefit students in maintaining what they learn during the school year," Matturro said.
Pre-K through fourth grade students are participating in the TEA pilot program called "Additional Days School Year."
In total, 30 more school days have been added to the year, some to the beginning and some to the end.
All parents and students had to opt into the program and, according to Matturro, the majority of them did. Those that did not want to participate were re-assigned to another campus.
The majority of the teachers also agreed to participate in the program, too.
"Most of them were happy and very for it, because it has so much to offer," Ana Troya said.
Troya is a student support manager at the school and says for parents, like Samwa Cham, it means a more valuable education for their children.
"My kid, this school, they help them. They help my kid," Cham said. "When they come home, I can't help them with homework. They do it by themselves. They learn it at school."
Her family is from Africa, and 7-year-old second-grader Omua says she is enjoying the school year so far.
"We learn nice stuff and we get to dance and play, and the teacher puts songs on so we can work," Omua said. "I'm the one who finishes the work fast."
Another benefit of the program is less money spent on child care for parents, and less money spent at the grocery store with kids eating lunch at school.
For more information about the program, visit the TEA website.