Drawing lessons from early evaluations of summer learning programs in six urban school districts selected for a multi-year project funded by The Wallace Foundation, this report offers information and guidance for districts interested in establishing similar programs.

The report answers such questions as when districts should begin work on their summer learning program, how they should hire and train teachers, what they should consider in choosing a curriculum, which actions can help boost attendance and how programs can balance academics and fun. As far as program planning goes, for example, the report recommends that districts begin work no later than January for the coming summer’s effort and establish both firm enrollment deadlines and a clear attendance policy.

Guidance on staffing includes suggestions for districts to:

  • Hire teachers who have grade-level and subject-matter experience and, if possible, who know the students they will be teaching, and
  • Work with enrichment providers that offer well-qualified staff members experienced in behavior management.

Other recommendations for districts are that they anchor their programs in commercially available and evidence-based curricula, and provide instruction in small classes or groups.

The report found that costs ranged from $8 to $19 per hour per student across the districts. To control fixed costs, districts can avoid assigning small numbers of students to many sites, the report says.

 Points of Interest

  • High-quality summer learning programs in school districts are full-day, run five to six weeks and devote three to four hours daily to academics, with plenty of time for enrichment as well.
    Rule of thumb for strong #summerlearning programs: 5-6 weeks, full-day, 3-4 hours on academics, rest on enrichment.
  • To get the most out of their investment in high-quality summer learning programs, school districts should consider tracking attendance and taking steps to boost it.
    Tracking & boosting attendance in #summerlearning programs helps districts get a full return on their investment.
  • Teachers in high-quality summer learning programs can hit the ground running if they get training and time to set up classrooms in advance.
    Before #summerlearning programs begin, teachers need training and time to set up their classrooms.

 Supplementary Materials