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.

  • Elementary schoolchildren wearing face masks in a classroom, photo by kevajefimija/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Commit Now to Get Summer Programming Right

    Apr 15, 2021

    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.

  • 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

    Mar 5, 2021

    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.

Explore Summer Learning

  • 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 "Ask Me Anything" session on Reddit, answering questions about year-round schooling, how to get the most out of summer learning programs, and more.

    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 13, 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 13, 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

  • 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

  • Multimedia

    Media Conference Call on Summer Learning Programs

    RAND education expert Catherine Augustine co-hosted a news media conference call to discuss "summer slide," the education loss some students experience due to the lack of learning programs available during the summer months. Participating in the call were Gary Huggins, chief executive officer of the National Summer Learning Association, and Lauren Gilbert, vice president of program, Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL). Media Relations Officer Joe Dougherty moderated the call.

    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

  • Two boys walking into a school

    Blog

    Can Summer Learning Programs Prevent Skill and Knowledge Loss?

    When kids go on summer vacation, their knowledge and skills suffer, with their performance dropping off, on average, one month from where they were when they left school in the spring. Such losses do not affect all kids equally, having the greatest effect on low-income students.

    Jun 20, 2012

  • Multimedia

    Making Summer Count

    RAND experts Catherine Augustine and Jennifer McCombs discuss the loss of knowledge and educational skills during summer, how summer programs can disrupt this loss, and how students who attend these programs perform better than peers who do not.

    Dec 16, 2011

  • teacher and children outside

    Report

    Investment in Summer Learning Programs Can Help Stop the Summer Slide

    The loss of knowledge and educational skills during the summer is cumulative over the course of a student's career and further widens the achievement gap between low- and upper-income students. Those who attend summer programs can disrupt that loss and do better in school.

    Jun 13, 2011

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Summer Counts: Making Summer Programs Part of the Learning Equation

    Summer learning programs can prevent the summertime loss of knowledge and skills that disproportionately affects low-income students. A study of existing programs resulted in targeted recommendations for school districts, policymakers, and funders.

    Jun 13, 2011

  • News Release

    News Release

    Investment in Summer Learning Programs Can Help Stop the 'Summer Slide'

    The loss of knowledge and educational skills during the summer months is cumulative over the course of a student's career and further widens the achievement gap between low- and upper-income students.

    Jun 12, 2011

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    Hours of Opportunity: How Cities Can Build Systems to Improve Out-of-School-Time Programs

    Five cities that received a grant from The Wallace Foundation to increase collaboration, access, quality, information sharing, and sustainability in their out-of-school-time systems used different planning approaches to meet the initiative's goals.

    Oct 18, 2010

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