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

  • 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

  • Research Brief

    First Outcomes from the National Summer Learning Study

    This brief describes the near-term effects of voluntary summer learning programs provided by five urban school districts to large numbers of struggling low-income elementary students in the summer of 2013.

    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 13, 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 10, 2013

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    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

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    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

  • A mother and daughter read a book while sitting in a hammock


    Three Summer Learning Tips Parents Can Use

    There’s plenty that parents can do at home to help their kids stay sharp until the new school year begins.

    Jun 10, 2013

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    At 65, RAND Continues to Make a Difference

    To celebrate our first 60 years, we created 60 Ways RAND Has Made a Difference, an online book to illustrate our most notable contributions. On our 65th birthday, we provide five of the most recent ways in which we at RAND are proud to have made a difference.

    May 14, 2013

  • Journal Article

    The Academic Effects of Summer Instruction and Retention in New York City

    This article examines the impacts of summer instruction and test-based grade retention in New York City.

    Mar 1, 2013

  • Blog

    Can Summer Learning Programs Prevent Skill and Knowledge Loss?

    When kids go on summer vacation, their knowledge and skills suffer, with their performance dropping off, on average, one month from where they were when they left school in the spring. Such losses do not affect all kids equally, having the greatest effect on low-income students.

    Jun 21, 2012

  • A young female student writes in her notebook


    Summer Learning for Urban Students

    Summer learning activities can help children gain knowledge and retain skills.

    Jun 21, 2012