In the best of times, it is no small feat to put together a quality summer learning program. Given that districts are focusing not only on academic recovery from COVID learning loss, but on retaining teachers, supporting students' and teachers' mental health, and addressing increases in misbehavior, they need immediate, digestible guidance for summer programming.
When summer programs are targeted to needs, intentionally designed, and well attended, they produce positive outcomes in math and reading. But these programs need federal support, and they require early planning.
For thousands of teachers across the United States, 2020 was a year of uncertainty. Many lacked access to their usual professional learning activities. Summer programs for students that also offer learning opportunities for teachers might help make up for lost time.
High-quality out-of-school-time programs can benefit youth, and tend to produce outcomes linked to program content. Funders and policymakers could maximize benefits of these programs by providing adequate resources and funding to support quality programming. It could be a wise investment for America's youth.
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.
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.
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.