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‘Summer slide’ meets COVID-19

Image of a brain missing a few puzzle pieces
Image: Tumisu / Pixabay

‘Summer slide’ meets COVID-19

Thomas Dee talks about research on a program to address learning loss and weighs in on the impact of pandemic school closures.

Parents and teachers often worry about what’s known as “summer slide” or “summer melt,” a phenomenon in which kids are believed to lose some of what they learned during the school year over their summer break.

What does the latest research show about whether or how much students actually fall behind during a gap in learning? And if students do experience some loss, what can schools do to alleviate the impact?

On this episode of School’s In, Thomas Dee, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, joined GSE Dean Dan Schwartz and Senior Lecturer Denise Pope to talk about the concept of summer slide, as well as new findings from his research into a summer program for middle school students at San Francisco Unified School District.

“The program is different in ways that I think are really informative,” says Dee, who is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and faculty director of the GSE's John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Families.

San Francisco’s long-running program offers a noteworthy example of how school districts can address temporary learning loss, which many parents and educators fear may be more profound and sustained this year due to COVID-19 school closures.

“Frankly, I’m deeply concerned,” says Dee. “I would love to see us start having a conversation about a kind of Marshall Plan for American youth, where we think about strategies for reinvesting in them, remediating the harm they’ve experienced.”

You can listen to School's In on SiriusXM, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

Faculty mentioned in this article: Thomas S. Dee

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