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Talking summer learning loss with PhillyCAM

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia. In late July, Notebook editor Dale Mezzacappa and I appeared on PhillyCAM’s Around the Corner, a public access talk show that highlights nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia.

The show’s host, Albert Lee, spoke with us about “Summer Lost: Stopping the Slide,” the Notebook’s multimedia series focusing on the phenomenon of summer learning loss in Philadelphia, which has been running since early June.

“Summer learning loss is a phenomenon in which students who aren’t in school [over the summer] lose the skills they built up over the year,” said Mezzacappa in the studio interview.

The series was conceived as a way to make Philadelphia parents, teachers, and children aware of summer learning loss, its consequences, and how to prevent it from happening.

“When they [children] go back to school in September, the teacher has to use up the first month or two of the school year so that they will get back to the place where they were when they left in June,” Mezzacappa said. “That is a big waste of time, and it results in what’s known as the achievement gap.”

Throughout the summer, the Notebook has released a series of episodes, multimedia stories exploring a different theme around summer slide, in the form of videos accompanied by photos and a written story. The "Summer Lost" series has focused on everything from the socioeconomic dimensions of the phenomenon to whether technology can help eliminate summer slide.

The series has used the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading — launched locally last week as READ! By Fourth by Public Citizens for Children and Youth — as a platform to tell the narrative of summer learning loss locally. The campaign seeks to dramatically increase literacy rates of young children by 2020 and has targeted summer learning loss as one of the major barriers to achieving this milestone.

The last two episodes, to be released in the following weeks, will explore how summer learning loss affects Philadelphia’s immigrants and consider on the whole how the city tackled the issue this summer.

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