Summer Learning


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.

  • A teacher helping two elementary students


    Summer Learning Programs Benefit Low-Income Urban Students

    Sep 7, 2016

    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.

  • Girls looking at a plant jar in a garden


    How to Establish and Sustain Effective Summer Learning Programs

    Dec 4, 2018

    High-quality summer learning programs improve the academic, social, and emotional outcomes of low-income students, but several components are needed to make a program successful. New guidance on best practices can help districts and their community partners implement and operate effective summer programs.

Explore Summer Learning

  • 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

  • girl studying outside


    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


    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 14, 2013

  • 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


    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 21, 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

  • 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 13, 2011

  • 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

  • teacher and children outside


    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

    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

  • Content

    Susannah Faxon-Mills

    Senior Policy Analyst
    Education B.A. in community studies, University of California, Santa Cruz; M.A. in education policy, Stanford University

  • Content

    Jennifer Sloan McCombs

    Director, Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department; Senior Policy Researcher
    Education Ph.D. in public policy, The George Washington University; B.A. in East Asian studies, College of William and Mary

  • Content

    Andrew McEachin

    Senior Policy Researcher; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
    Education Ph.D. in education policy, University of Southern California; M.A. in economics, University of Southern California; A.B. in history, Cornell University

  • Content

    Katie Tosh

    Policy Analyst
    Education M.P.H. in public health, Tulane University; B.A. in environmental studies, University of North Carolina; B.A. in Spanish, University of North Carolina; Certificate in nonprofit management and leadership, Tufts University

Research conducted by