CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This year, summer school is mandatory for thousands of students across North Carolina. Teachers are trying to help struggling students tackle the “COVID slump.”
Education experts define that as the learning loss brought on by a year of virtual school during the pandemic.
Data from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction shows 75% of third graders were not reading proficiently this year. Teachers in Charlotte are partnering with local organizations to try and help students catch up on fundamental learning tools.
Imani Coleman, a teacher at Northridge Middle School, is working with the Black Child Development Institute of Charlotte at its annual STEAM into Summer camp. She says during the pandemic, she saw students logging online for class, and then tuning out the lesson plans. Then, when students returned to the classroom, she says basic reading and writing skills had disappeared.
“I asked a student to make sure they write their name out completely. Not even their last name, just write your name. Where to put it on the paper, where to start, it just became a frozen moment,” Coleman said.
She says when teachers and students came together for camp this year, she noticed an instant change.
“This year there’s more input from the kids,” Coleman said. “They’re in it. They’re ready, they’re hungry.”
Coleman knows the work doesn’t end with the summer camp, but she says educational camps are crucial in preventing learning loss and in furthering a child’s education.
“If somebody tells you that you can, that can’t be the cutoff. So you also have to believe,” she said. “Someone has to help you see that you can. Just writing one word can be that thing.”
The president of the Black Child Development Institute of Charlotte says camp this year is over capacity with an additional 30 students signing up this summer. BCDI has also partnered with Read Charlotte to create the Reading Check Up Program.
At the end of July, there will be a back to school literacy celebration. The event is July 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Northridge Middle School.