Summer — A Time for Learning: Five Lessons From School Districts and Their Partners About Running Successful Programs

Summer — A Time for Learning: Five Lessons From School Districts and Their Partners About Running Successful Programs

A high-quality summer learning program that offers engaging academic and enrichment activities and helps close achievement and opportunity gaps for children from disadvantaged communities can and should be a part of school districts' year-round operations, a report from the Wallace Foundation finds. The report, Summer — A Time for Learning: Five Lessons From School Districts and Their Partners About Running Successful Programs (32 pages, PDF), highlights insights from the foundation's National Summer Learning Project, a multiyear initiative that supported the summer learning efforts of five school districts and their partner organizations. Based on an extensive evaluation by the RAND Corporation and interviews with participants, the report offers a number of recommendations: start the planning process early and include all relevant departments and partner organizations; focus on quality and opportunities available only during the summer months; and invest in intensive social marketing and recruitment efforts. The report also suggests that the key to making summer learning progams sustainable is to embed them into a district's organizational structure, broader goals, and practices, and to engage various departments and expert staff in championing them. According to the report, it also helps to build relationships with superintendents, chief academic officers, and funding coordinators (who not only play a direct role in allocating revenue and setting policy but also can advocate for summer learning with city, state, and federal officials); state education agency officials; local elected officials; and the community, especially young people themselves, who benefit from and can speak directly to the importance of funding such programs.

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