- A new RAND Corp. publication identifies 43 summer programs that meet the top three tiers of the Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) evidence standards. The 162-page report, “Investing in Successful Summer Programs," can be downloaded for free.
- In its analysis, the researchers found that there are summer program models that lead to a variety of positive outcomes including student learning, social and emotional development and career skills. But most programs were not able to improve all outcomes being measured.
- The researchers note that students can grow and develop skills during the summer months. However, parents, educators, practitioners and program funders should look for evidence before making decisions about choosing one they want children to attend.
Summer programming can supplement learning for students, by enhancing regular curriculum or serving as remediation for children who have struggled during the school year. That’s why many educators and curriculum leaders stress the need for students to have learning and reading opportunities when the weather warms up, and school lets out. The concern is that children, when out of the classroom, may lose what they’ve learned during the school year, experiencing summer slide.
Others, however, have argued whether children really do fall backwards, or forget what they’ve learned. In a recent article for EducationNext, Paul von Hippel of the University of Texas, Austin, argues that the case for summer learning loss is based on outdated research. Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College, provides another perspective, writing in a 2017 article for Psychology Today that while skills may grow rusty, concepts are still retained.
Summer activities can support academic goals through summer science camps, and reading programs at a local library. For school and district leaders, the challenge is ensuring that the program is meeting students' needs while not feeling like school. The RAND report also noted that summer is a great time to focus on some non-academic areas, such as mental health, physical health and social skills.