School systems are using summer reading programs to help students ahead of the new school year

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Last year’s ACAP reading test results paint a better picture of student needs ahead of the new school year. Mobile County has 69% of third graders reading at or above their grade level, which is below the state average of 78%. This is something the school system says it is prepared for.

“Like schools across the country, we are experiencing learning loss as a result of COVID 19,” said Rena Philips of the Mobile County Public School System.

There is a plan in place. Mobile County just completed a month-long summer literacy program in its elementary schools.

“They learn to mix letters and read words and their phonetics and all that,” Philips said.

Philips said students who have gone through the program have already tested better than when they started, which should give them a head start this fall.

“They will be able to do even better because they will hopefully catch up with their peers in their class and they will progress and do better in their class and in the test next year,” added Philips.

Across the bay, third-graders in Baldwin County topped the average with 82% reading at or above their grade level, prompting educators to feel cautiously optimistic.

“We’re certainly more concerned with getting to that 90 percent proficiency,” Baldwin County Director of Studies Renee Carter said.

To get there, Baldwin County completed its second year of summer reading camp.

“Our children that we invite are those who typically struggle during the regular school day,” said elementary curriculum coordinator Kristin Lamotte.

Teachers spent the entire month of June working with each student on the specific issues that are causing them problems with reading proficiency.

“We explore to say if they don’t know the blends or if they can’t decode the words and what we do is we target that very intensely,” added Lamotte.

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