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Knowledge From the Field

Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning

Published: June 2011

Publisher(s): RAND Corporation

Author(s): McCombs, Jennifer; Catherine H. Augustine; Susan J. Bodilly; Amanda Brown Cross; Dahlia S. Lichter; Brian McInnis; Heather Lee Schwartz

Funder(s): Wallace Foundation

View Report (118 pages; 1.11MB; PDF)

Area of Focus: Out-of-School Time


The report reviews literature on summer learning loss and the effectiveness of summer learning programs in urban districts to counter its effect. The report analyzes costs, gathers information about how programs operate, and offers recommendations to providers and funders.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

+Summer learning programs can mitigate summer learning losses and even lead to achievement gains.

=Summer learning loss is disproportionate and cumulative in low-income students, and it contributes substantially to the achievement gap, particularly in reading.

=In order to be effective, summer learning programs need to be high-quality (having individualized instruction, parental involvement, and small class sizes), and students need to attend regularly (strategies include offering engaging enrichment activities, providing transportation, and offering full-day programs).

=Partnerships with school districts and community-based organizations can strengthen summer learning programs in terms of cost, leveraging funding, and providing opportunities for enrichment.

Focus: National

Subjects/Keywords: Children and Youth; Elementary and Secondary Education; Low-Income; Summer Programs

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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