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Pinellas County Aims To Help Students Stop The Summer Slide

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Cathy Carter
The "Fill-the-Bus" campaign will make stops in Largo, St.Pete and Clearwater this week.

School wraps up in Pinellas County in just six more weeks, but educators hope students don't see that as a time to stop reading.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math skills over the summer. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement.

Dywayne Hinds, director of Middle School Education for Pinellas County, said reading three to four books over the summer can reverse what's called the "summer slide."

And he said parents who read aloud with their kids can help.

"Students do learn from good behaviors and modeling from their parents,” he said. “When their parents are reading, students are reading so we encourage parents to read with their kids.”

According to the U.S Department of Education, learning slows when kids don't participate in educational activities during the summer.  Research shows more than half of the achievement gap between lower and higher income children can be attributed to unequal access to learning opportunities.

That's the reason behind the Pinellas school district's "Fill-the-Bus" campaign.

Hinds says people can drop off books throughout the week in Largo, St. Petersburg and Clearwater.

We can minimize the effect that students have in terms of that summer slide,” he said. “So we're doing this initiative to encourage students to read.”

Books will be distributed throughout the summer and kids can also access a digital library and track their reading progress online at www.pcsb.org.

The yellow school bus will be at the Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg Tuesday, the Largo Mall on Wednesday and the Countryside Mall in Clearwater on Thursday.