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The "summer slump" is a real worry for Virginia teachers and lawmakers

Mallory Noe-Payne
Radio IQ

School's out for summer for most of Virginia public schools. And teachers are worried about learning loss.

After schools closed for the pandemic, test scores plummeted. Now, figuring out a way to address that learning loss is even more worrisome for teachers, administrators and legislators who are concerned about the summertime slump.

"What we find is that with the traditional summer break, many students are losing between two and three months’ worth of schooling that they’re needing to make up at the beginning of the next school year," says Roanoke Delegate Sam Rasoul, who chairs the House Education Committee. "And with a robust summer school program, we’re helping to close that gap."

He says school divisions should have more resources they could use for summer school. But Senator Schuyler Van Valkenburg, a Democrat from Henrico County who’s also a high school civics teacher, says it's time to reimagine the summer break.

"It's really about reimagining the schedule so you don't have this big two-and-a-half-month gap where we know that particularly kids that are lower down the economic scale tend to have more of a summer slump," he says. "And so, I think reimagining the school year is probably the most effective way at getting at that slump."

He points to schools in Richmond that have modified their calendar to have shorter summertime breaks and a more year-round schedule – a trend he says the General Assembly should encourage at divisions across Virginia as the best way to solve the summertime slump.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.