Summer Learning

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Research shows that summertime can widen the achievement gap between students from low-income families and their more-affluent peers. Summer learning programs are a promising way to narrow the gap. RAND researchers examine approaches and strategies for summer learning initiatives and their effects on student outcomes.

  • Multiracial group of children raising their hands in a classroom with a smiling Black woman teacher, photo by kali9/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How to Make Sure Your Summer Learning Program Is Effective

    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.

    Mar 30, 2022

  • High school teacher in classroom with students wearing face masks, photo by RichVintage/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Teachers Have Lost Out on Professional Development. Summer Programs Could Help

    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.

    Mar 5, 2021

Explore Summer Learning

  • A teacher helping two elementary students

    Report

    Summer Learning Programs Benefit Low-Income Urban Students

    Low-income students lose ground in the summer relative to their wealthier peers. High-quality voluntary summer learning programs can help disadvantaged students catch up and succeed in school, but consistent attendance is crucial.

    Sep 7, 2016

  • Journal Article

    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

    Blog

    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

  • Teachers and students on a science class field trip in a greenhouse

    Research Brief

    First Outcomes from the National Summer Learning Study

    Five urban school districts are offering voluntary summer learning programs free of charge to struggling elementary students as part of a project to determine whether these kinds of programs improve low-income student outcomes.

    Feb 13, 2015

  • News Release

    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

  • Six children standing in front of a chalkboard during a math lesson

    Report

    Students Who Attended Summer Learning Programs Gained an Advantage in Math

    Summer learning loss disproportionately affects low-income students and therefore likely contributes to the achievement gap between these students and their higher-income peers. 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.

    Dec 16, 2014

  • Teacher and preschool students reading outside

    Blog

    Ask Me Anything: Catherine Augustine on Summer Learning

    With summer now underway, RAND's Catherine Augustine hosted an

    Jul 3, 2014

  • caregiver with boy

    Report

    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

    Report

    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

    Blog

    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

    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 12, 2013

  • two girls observing a butterfly through a magnifying glass

    Report

    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 12, 2013

  • girl studying outside

    Solution

    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

  • Call with the Experts

    Multimedia

    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

  • Call with the Experts

    Multimedia

    Media Conference Call on Summer Learning Programs

    RAND education expert Catherine Augustine co-hosted a news media conference call to discuss

    Jun 18, 2013

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

    Blog

    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

  • Blog

    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 13, 2013

  • Journal Article

    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

  • A young female student writes in her notebook

    Project

    National Summer Learning Project

    RAND's research on summer learning is commissioned by the Wallace Foundation as part of its More Time for Learning initiative. One objective of this initiative is to promote high-quality summer learning programs across the country for low-achieving students.

    Jun 21, 2012

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