Out-of-School Time: Summer Learning and After-School Program Evaluation

Photo by Sergey Novikov

There is extensive research available on students and how many factors in the classroom affect their performance—but what about the time children spend outside of school? There has been little evidence about summer learning and after-school programs, which have the potential to help improve outcomes, particularly for low-income and low-achieving students.

To help understand out-of-school time and how it impacts students, our experts evaluate after-school programs and summer learning programs; assess how these programs are structured, administered, and funded; and investigate the impact of expanding learning time for students. RAND Education and Labor researchers search for answers to important questions such as

  • Are students losing ground during the summer? If so, are these losses disproportionate by race or income?
  • What aspects of summer learning programs are associated with positive outcomes?
  • How can cities and districts design and implement effective programs—and measure their quality and outcomes?

Findings from a RAND study suggest that high attenders benefited from summer learning programs in mathematics and language arts achievement.

Research In Action

  • RAND's study Making Summer Count remains the most comprehensive study on summer learning to date and has influenced the policy conversation in the popular press, academic journals, and among decisionmakers.
  • RAND research is helping leaders make important decisions about how to design and implement these programs effectively.
  • Our experts have even provided districts with direct recommendations surrounding important elements of summer learning programs, including attendance, daily schedules, and teacher selection.


More Work