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Ready for Fall? Near-Term Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Students' Learning Opportunities and Outcomes

Ready for Fall? Near-Term Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Students' Learning Opportunities and Outcomes

Jennifer Sloan McCombs
John F. Pane
Catherine H. Augustine
Heather L. Schwartz
Paco Martorell
Laura Zakaras
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: RAND Corporation
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  • Book Info
    Ready for Fall? Near-Term Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Students' Learning Opportunities and Outcomes
    Book Description:

    The Wallace Foundation’s National Summer Learning Study, conducted by RAND and launched in 2011, offers the first assessment of district-run voluntary summer programs over the short and long run. This report, the second of five that will result from the study, looks at how summer programs affected student performance on math, reading, and social and emotional assessments in fall 2013.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8822-2
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The United States has a persistent achievement gap between students from low-income and higher-income families. On the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 47 percent of fourth-grade students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL) scored at the “below basic” level in reading compared with 17 percent of students who were not eligible—a gap of 30 percentage points. For mathematics, the gap was 20 percentage points (27 percent versus 7 percent). Similar, although smaller, achievement gaps are found between black and white students, Hispanic and white students, and English language learners and native speakers. These income, racial, and languagelearner...

  9. CHAPTER TWO How Did We Measure Implementation and Outcomes?
    (pp. 9-18)

    The goal of the study is to assess the impact of summer learning programs on student outcomes. But we also assume that for the programs to have impact, they have to be implemented well—for example, providing quality instruction to students who attend consistently. Therefore we collected data on program implementation in each of the two summers of the experiment. To assess how the summer programs were implemented, we observed each student’s math and language arts classroom at least once; surveyed academic teachers in the summer program; and tracked student attendance. To measure outcomes in fall 2013, The Foundation worked...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Who Were the Students in the Study?
    (pp. 19-24)

    This chapter describes characteristics of the students in the study, as well as attendance patterns for both the treatment and control students in summer programs. Differences between the two groups depend to some extent on the attendance rate of the treatment students and whether the control students sought out other summer opportunities when they were not accepted into the program.

    In spring 2013, summer program leaders in each district set criteria for selecting the third-graders they would invite to the voluntary summer program. District criteria varied. One district advertised to and recruited all third-graders. The other four districts excluded students...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR How Did Implementation of the Summer Programs Vary?
    (pp. 25-34)

    In this chapter, we provide a brief overview of each district’s program and describe some of the variation in implementation we observed in summer 2013. As described in Chapter One, each of the district’s programs had the following features in common: a minimum of three hours of academic instruction from certified teachers per day for at least five weeks in the summer; free programming, including meals and transportation; a combination of academics and enrichment; and small class sizes. Beyond those requirements, each of the districts created a unique summer program. As shown in Table 4.1 and the rest of this...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE What Were the Near-Term Effects of the Summer Programs?
    (pp. 35-38)

    The goal of this study is to identify program effects on student learning in math and reading and explore whether the program contributed to students’ social-emotional outcomes. With the first results from fall 2013 assessments now analyzed, we can demonstrate that the summer learning programs made a significant difference in students’ performance in mathematics. We report on those findings here. Later reports will examine whether the single summer program continues to influence student achievement at the end of the school year and whether offering a second consecutive summer of programming improves these outcomes.

    The summer programs had a significant’ mathematics...

  13. CHAPTER SIX What Aspects of Summer Programs Are Related to Positive Outcomes?
    (pp. 39-44)

    Summer program leaders want to know what aspects of programming influence student outcomes. Because this study gathered program implementation data, we are able to conduct analyses to examine how programmatic features are related to the programs’ effects on student outcomes. We examined seven characteristics of summer programs that we expected might increase the summer programs’ effects on admitted students:

    attendance, or the number of days a student attended the program

    dosage, or the amount of instructional hours a student received

    relative opportunity for individual attention, which combines dosage and class size

    quality of instruction in students’ mathematics and language arts...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Key Findings and Implications
    (pp. 45-48)

    This study tests whether free, voluntary, district-run summer programs that include academics and enrichment activities benefit low-income elementary students. Because we evaluate five different programs in five different states, we are examining a “proof of concept” rather than the effectiveness of a particular program in a specific locale. We summarize here the key findings of our analysis to date, their implications for school districts considering such programs, some possible explanations for the absence of program impact on reading and social/emotional development, and next steps for the study.

    We found there was strong demand among low-income students and their families for...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 49-52)
  16. Middle Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  17. Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  18. Figures and Tables
    (pp. v-vi)
  19. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  20. Appendix A. Randomization Design and Implementation
    (pp. 1-8)
  21. Appendix B. Statistical Analysis
    (pp. 9-13)
  22. Appendix C. Data Collection
    (pp. 14-43)
  23. Appendix D. Hypothesized Mediators and Moderators of Summer Program Effects
    (pp. 44-51)
  24. Appendix E. Results from Regression Models with Covariates
    (pp. 52-57)
  25. References
    (pp. 58-59)