The National Summer Learning Project (NSLP) set out to answer three key questions:
Can large urban school districts successfully run high-quality summer learning programs?
What benefits can these programs have for students?
What practical steps are key to success, and what are the barriers to overcome?
With the RAND Corporation as our research partner, we answered these questions. RAND found that districts and their partners can carry out high-quality, voluntary summer learning programs that serve large numbers of children and that students with consistent attendance saw educationally meaningful benefits in math, reading and social and emotional learning. (To read more about the outcomes, see
Learning from Summer.)
RAND’s study was a multi-year effort. First, to help strengthen the NSLP programs so that they could be studied for their effectiveness, RAND conducted formative evaluations of the programs over two summers (2011 and 2012). The five districts and their partners then made successive improvements to their programs. In 2013, RAND launched an outcomes study to supplement the ongoing implementation evaluation.
To gather information for both evaluations, RAND interviewed summer program stakeholders; surveyed teachers, parents, and students; observed program training, instruction, and logistics; gathered program cost data and analyzed district data on attendance. RAND also collected data on student outcomes in math, literacy and social and emotional learning and reviewed education research. From summer 2011 through summer 2014, RAND collected more than 1,200 surveys of summer instructors and 10,000 surveys of elementary grade students; conducted 900 interviews and observed more than 2,000 hours of classroom and enrichment activities. RAND’s findings, recommendations and analyses are contained in five reports to date, the most recent of which is
Getting to Work on Summer Learning, Second Edition (GTWSL2).
In GTWSL2, RAND draws on four years of rich implementation and outcome data collected to make a set of recommendations for district leaders who are interested in launching or improving summer learning programs.
As a companion piece to GTWSL2, the Toolkit can help other districts and their partners apply RAND’s recommendations through aligned tools, templates and guidance.