May 12, 2020
In 2011, The Wallace Foundation launched a project to expand summer program opportunities for students from low-income families in urban school districts. RAND researchers assessed program effectiveness. In this sixth report in a series, the authors consider how policy environments affect districts' attempts to scale and sustain quality summer programs, with the goal of helping program leaders navigate local, state, and federal policy contexts.
Summer programs offered by school districts can provide academic support and enrichment opportunities to students from low-income families who often lose ground over the summer to their peers from higher-income families. In 2011, The Wallace Foundation launched the National Summer Learning Project (NSLP) to expand summer program opportunities for students in urban districts.
Through the NSLP, The Wallace Foundation provided support to the participating public school districts and their community partners in Boston, Massachusetts; Dallas, Texas; Duval County, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Rochester, New York. RAND researchers assessed the effectiveness of these districts' voluntary, district-led summer learning programs and found near-term academic benefits in mathematics for all students and benefits in reading and social-emotional domains for students with ample program attendance. These academic benefits also persisted through their school year.
As the NSLP wound down in 2017, these districts and their partners turned their attention and efforts toward increasing the scale of, continuing to improve the quality of, and sustaining these programs. In this sixth report in a series, the authors consider how policy environments constrain or support districts' attempts to scale and sustain quality summer programs and aim to help summer program leaders in school districts across the country navigate policy contexts at the district, city, state, and federal levels.
Federal Policies' Impact on Summer Learning Programs
State Policies Affecting Summer Learning Programs
City Policies Affecting Summer Learning Programs
District Policies and Practices Affecting Summer Learning Programs
Conclusions and Recommendations