Nov 4, 2018
RAND is conducting a longitudinal study that evaluates the effectiveness of voluntary summer learning programs in reducing summer learning loss, which contributes substantially to the achievement gap between low- and higher-income students. Based on evaluations of programs in six school districts, this second report in a series provides research-based advice for school district leaders as they create and strengthen summer programs.
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This report was superseded by a revised, updated edition in late 2018.
Research shows low-income students suffer disproportionate learning loss over the summer and because those losses accumulate over time, they contribute substantially to the achievement gap between low- and higher-income children. The Wallace Foundation is funding a five-year demonstration project to examine whether summer learning programs can reduce summer learning loss and promote achievement gains. This report, the first in a series, draws on emerging lessons from six school districts in the study — Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Duval County (Florida), Pittsburgh, and Rochester (New York) — that offer full-day programs for five to six weeks free of charge to large numbers of elementary students. The report synthesizes the key lessons learned about how to establish and sustain effective programs. The most emphatic recommendation is to start planning early, no later than January, and include both district and summer site leaders in the process. Many problems identified by the researchers — from weak teacher training to ineffective transportation — could be traced to a rushed planning process. Other guidance includes adopting a commercially available curriculum, establishing enrollment deadlines, ensuring sufficient time on academics, and selecting enrichment providers with qualified staff experienced in behavior management. To manage costs, the authors suggest designing the program with costs in mind — by hiring staff based on projected daily attendance rather than number of enrollees, for example, and by restricting the number of sites to control administrative costs.
Curriculum and Instruction
Teacher Selection and Training
Academic Time on Task
Program Cost and Funding
Surveys and Observations
Cost Analyses Methods and Limitations