[For updated guidance on summer learning programs, please see Getting to Work on Summer Learning Revised 2nd Edition; for updated information on outcomes please see Every Summer Counts and Investing in Successful Summer Programs]
In a trio of reports, experts from Child Trends, a nonprofit nonpartisan research center, and the National Summer Learning Association share what they know about summer learning loss and possible solutions to this widespread problem. Effective and Promising Summer Learning Programs and Approaches for Economically-Disadvantaged Children and Youth reviews research on summer programs aimed at raising academic achievement or producing other long-term benefits, such as physical fitness, employment or college enrollment. It identifies successful programs as well as promising practices and questions for further research. The report also recommends strategies schools and communities can follow to reduce summer learning loss.
It's Time for Summer: An Analysis of Recent Policy and Funding Opportunities examines policies and funding streams at national, state and local levels that support summer learning for low-income children in major US cities. It also describes how these policies and funding streams might be structured to serve more students and provide them with both academic support and the same kind of enrichment resources available to middle-class youth.
Building Quality in Summer Learning Programs: Approaches and Recommendations describes seven strategies for improving summer programs for disadvantaged youth. These include establishing professional standards and credentials for summer staff members, developing research-based guidelines for the selection of a summer learning curriculum and connecting summer program providers with those offering professional development and other assistance.
Points of Interest
Children who need summer learning programs the most are least likely to participate. Enrollment in summer programs is lower for kids who are less engaged in school, exhibit behavior problems, don't participate in social and recreation clubs during the school year, and live in single parent homes or in families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line.
To stay on track academically, low-income kids need more than academic remediation in the summer. They need programs offering sports, science projects, hikes through the forest, trips to historic sites, and dance, drama or poetry—just like middle-class kids.
Extending afterschool programs into the summer is more affordable than launching new independent summer learning programs. It also attracts better qualified staff members who usually prefer year-round rather than seasonal employment. Changes to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program (CCLC) federal grant program could help more academic support and enrichment programs operate year-round.