Summer Learning


Loss of knowledge and educational skills during summer months is cumulative over the course of a student's career and further widens the achievement gap between low- and upper-income students. Many experts see summer learning programs as key to preventing the “summer slide” and closing the achievement gap. RAND researchers examine approaches and strategies for summer learning initiatives and their effect on student outcomes.

Explore Summer Learning

  • Periodical

    RAND Review: January-February 2017

    This issue highlights ways that RAND researchers on the ground in Uganda are having a measurable impact on the lives of men and women struggling with HIV and depression. The issue also features a tribute to the late economist Charles Wolf Jr.

    Jan 12, 2017

  • News Release

    Voluntary Summer Learning Programs for Elementary School Students Benefit Those with High Levels of Attendance

    Elementary school students with high levels of attendance in voluntary summer learning programs led by urban districts experienced benefits in math and reading.

    Sep 7, 2016

  • Infographic

    Learning from Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth

    This infographic summarizes several student outcomes from an assessment of five voluntary, district-led summer learning programs offered at no cost to low-income, urban elementary students.

    Sep 7, 2016

  • Kids walking to school

    Research Brief

    Kids Who Attend More Benefit More: Voluntary Summer Learning Programs

    This brief summarizes the outcomes of two summers of voluntary academic programming (2013 and 2014) on 3,192 low-income urban students accepted into the programs who had completed third grade before the first summer.

    Sep 7, 2016

  • A teacher helping two elementary students


    Summer Learning Programs Benefit Low-Income Urban Students

    Low-income students lose ground in the summer relative to their wealthier peers. High-quality voluntary summer learning programs can help disadvantaged students catch up and succeed in school, but consistent attendance is crucial.

    Sep 7, 2016

  • Journal Article

    The Impact of Summer Learning Loss on Measures of School Performance

    State and federal accountability policies are predicated on the ability to estimate valid and reliable measures of school impacts on student learning. Results raise questions about the design of performance-based education policies, as well as schools' role in the production of students' achievement.

    Jun 1, 2016

  • Students sitting outside under a tree with their teacher


    Summer Learning Day: Stopping the Summer Slide

    RAND is conducting the first-ever assessment of large-scale, voluntary, district-run, summer learning programs serving low-income elementary students. The results may help districts, educators, and policymakers make better decisions about funding and implementing programs to stop summer learning loss.

    Jun 19, 2015

  • Teachers and students on a science class field trip in a greenhouse

    Research Brief

    First Outcomes from the National Summer Learning Study

    Five urban school districts are offering voluntary summer learning programs free of charge to struggling elementary students as part of a project to determine whether these kinds of programs improve low-income student outcomes.

    Feb 13, 2015

  • News Release

    Students Attending Summer Learning Programs Returned to School in the Fall with an Advantage in Math

    Students who attended voluntary, school district-led summer learning programs in five urban areas began the academic year with stronger math skills than their peers who did not attend the programs.

    Dec 16, 2014

  • Teacher and preschool students reading outside


    Ask Me Anything: Catherine Augustine on Summer Learning

    With summer now underway, RAND's Catherine Augustine hosted an "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit, answering questions about year-round schooling, how to get the most out of summer learning programs, and more.

    Jul 3, 2014

  • caregiver with boy


    Early and School-Age Care in Santa Monica: Current System, Policy Options, and Recommendations: Executive Summary

    In July 2012, the City of Santa Monica Human Services Division and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District contracted with the RAND Corporation to conduct an assessment of child care programs in Santa Monica.

    Apr 25, 2014

  • young children with teacher playing outside with bubbles


    Early and School-Age Care in Santa Monica

    Researchers examine how well Santa Monica's child care programs meet the needs of families, including child care and early education programs before kindergarten, as well as care for school-aged children, both during the school year and the summer.

    Apr 25, 2014

  • Four happy students with a teacher outside


    Early Planning Key to Effective Summer Learning Programs

    RAND education experts Jennifer McCombs and Catherine Augustine hosted a news media conference call to discuss the best steps school districts can take to provide the most effective and rewarding summer learning programs.

    Aug 14, 2013

  • News Release

    Early Planning Is One of Several Steps Crucial to Successful Summer Learning Programs

    The most important steps school districts can take to implement an effective summer learning program are to begin planning at least six months in advance and to include both district and summer site leaders in the process.

    Aug 13, 2013

  • children reading outside

    Research Brief

    How to Get the Most out of a Summer Learning Program

    Summer learning programs may help close the achievement gap between low- and higher-income children if done well, but they are sometimes an afterthought or not offered at all, especially when education budgets are tight. Starting the planning process early, hiring the right teachers, and other best practices can help ensure success.

    Aug 12, 2013

  • girl studying outside


    Developing Strategies for Summer Learning

    RAND education experts conducted extensive literature reviews, examined summer program cost data, interviewed numerous providers of summer programs, and visited a diverse range of U.S. cities to interview summer learning leaders and observe summer learning directly.

    Aug 9, 2013

  • Multimedia

    Media Conference Call on Getting to Work on Summer Learning

    RAND education experts Jennifer McCombs and Catherine Augustine hosted a news media conference call to discuss the best steps school districts can take to provide the most effective and rewarding summer learning programs. Ann Stone, who leads the summer learning initiatives at The Wallace Foundation, which funded the study, also participated. The call was moderated by RAND Media Relations Officer Joe Dougherty.

    Aug 9, 2013

  • Multimedia

    Media Conference Call on Summer Learning Programs

    RAND education expert Catherine Augustine co-hosted a news media conference call to discuss "summer slide," the education loss some students experience due to the lack of learning programs available during the summer months. Participating in the call were Gary Huggins, chief executive officer of the National Summer Learning Association, and Lauren Gilbert, vice president of program, Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL). Media Relations Officer Joe Dougherty moderated the call.

    Jun 18, 2013