Can large urban school districts successfully run high-quality summer learning programs? If so, how can they do it? And what impact can these programs have on students?

These are three of the questions Wallace, the RAND Corporation and five urban school districts are exploring as part of the National Summer Learning Project, a six-year effort to provide voluntary, district-led summer programs that offer a mix of academic instruction and enrichment—and test whether they help boost students’ success in school. To find out the answers, RAND is conducting a randomized controlled trial, the largest of its kind. Ultimately, RAND will examine the impact of two consecutive summers of participating in a summer learning program, following the students in the study through the 7th grade.

 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 set up and run effective summer learning programs for children, organizers should consider key steps, including year-round program planning and setting aside ample time to recruit students and hire high-quality staff members.
    Good practices for effective #summerlearning programs: Early planning, early hiring, early student recruitment.
  • Students selected to take part in summer learning programs in 2013 as part of The Wallace Foundation’s Summer Learning District Demonstration Project scored higher on fall math tests than those who applied but were not selected; there was no difference in reading scores between the two groups.
    Early data: On fall math tests, but not reading, kids in 2013 #summerlearning programs outscored nonparticipants.