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Getting to Work on Summer Learning

Getting to Work on Summer Learning: Recommended Practices for Success

Catherine H. Augustine
Jennifer Sloan McCombs
Heather L. Schwartz
Laura Zakaras
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 86
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  • Book Info
    Getting to Work on Summer Learning
    Book Description:

    RAND is conducting a longitudinal study that evaluates the effectiveness of voluntary summer learning programs in reducing summer learning loss, which contributes substantially to the achievement gap between low- and higher-income students. Based on evaluations of programs in six school districts, this second report in a series provides research-based advice for school district leaders as they create and strengthen summer programs.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8136-0
    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. 1-10)

    Despite concerted efforts to close the large achievement gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students over the past several decades, significant disparities remain. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2011, 50 percent of fourth-grade students eligible for free lunch scored at the “below basic” level in reading (the lowest proficiency level), compared with 18 percent of students who were not eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch programs. Large achievement gaps exist for mathematics as well, with 29 percent of students receiving free lunch performing at the lowest performance level compared with only 8 percent of higher-income peers....

  9. CHAPTER TWO Planning
    (pp. 11-16)

    Launching a summer program is akin to launching a new school year—albeit more limited, with less time for both planning and execution. It requires establishing a management structure, including district program responsibilities and oversight and site-level leadership and staffing; hiring and training summer teachers and administrators; developing or choosing a summer curriculum; selecting enrichment activities suitable for the program; recruiting summer students and creating ways to promote consistent attendance; and managing many other details, such as transportation, meals, and supplies. These are daunting tasks that require months of planning while the school year is in full swing.

    Some districts...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Curriculum and Instruction
    (pp. 17-22)

    In any education setting, teachers’ instruction of the curriculum has the greatest influence on student learning (McCaffrey et al., 2003; Rivkin, Hanushek, and Kain, 2000). In the context of summer learning programs, the quality of the curriculum and its instruction is critical to achieving the goal of improved student performance. Each of the districts we studied offered at least three hours of ELA and mathematics instruction a day. We assessed their curricula and its instruction in multiple ways: Two external curriculum reviewers (one for ELA and one for mathematics) reviewed curricula; we also surveyed and interviewed teachers and interviewed curriculum...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Teacher Selection and Training
    (pp. 23-28)

    Research confirms that teacher quality has the largest school-based impact on student outcomes (Sanders and Rivers, 1996; Wright, Horn, and Sanders, 1997; Sanders and Horn, 1998; Rowan, Correnti, and Miller, 2002; Rivkin, Hanushek, and Kain, 2005). In this chapter, we offer early guidance on how to hire effective summer teachers and give them the training they need—critical steps in achieving teacher quality. We base our guidance on both general education research and our first-year evaluations of the summer learning programs, including observations of training and teacher reports about how well prepared they felt for teaching in the summer program....

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Enrichment Activities
    (pp. 29-34)

    All the districts offered enrichment activities such as the arts, sports, and science exploration, to differentiate their summer program from a traditional “summer school” that students and parents might perceive as a punitive requirement rather than as a valuable and fun opportunity. This chapter reviews the goals of enrichment activities expressed by district leaders and teachers, the different approaches districts took to providing these activities, and early insights on practices that appear to improve success based on our classroom observations and teacher surveys. Insights in this chapter are drawn from our classroom observations of enrichment activities; interviews with site leaders,...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Attendance
    (pp. 35-38)

    The ultimate goal of the districts’ summer programs is to improve student achievement. Offering a high-quality program is only part of this task: Districts also need to attract students to the program and ensure consistent attendance. Studies that have examined the link between outcomes and attendance have found that increased attendance is correlated with academic outcomes (McCombs, Kirby, and Mariano, 2009; Borman and Dowling, 2006). None of the district programs were funded based on attendance. Nonetheless, all program leaders hoped to maximize student participation. Because most of the districts knew it would be a challenge to get students to attend...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Academic Time on Task
    (pp. 39-42)

    Offering a program does not guarantee results. Productive academic learning time is more predictive of student achievement than student time in the classroom (Harnischfeger and Wiley, 1976; Lomax and Cooley, 1979; Fisher et al., 1980; Karweit and Slavin, 1982; Hawley et al., 1984; Karweit, 1985). In other words, how programs use time is critical. Summer programs that last the same number of days can provide very different levels of average time on task depending on average daily attendance, the number of minutes assigned to academics each day, and how instructional time within academic blocks is used—in other words, how...

  15. CHAPTER EIGHT Program Cost and Funding
    (pp. 43-48)

    Cost is of utmost concern to school districts in deciding whether and how widely to offer summer programming. In this chapter we describe the amount of “new money” districts required to operate a summer program—that is, the direct monetary expenditures in the districts’ 2011 summer budgets, not including such “hidden costs” as the use of school facilities at no charge to summer program budgets or the in-kind provision of district administrator time for planning or carrying out the summer program. Based on cost data we collected from six school districts, we describe the sources of this funding, distribution of...

  16. CHAPTER NINE In Conclusion
    (pp. 49-50)

    This report provides recommendations on how to establish and sustain summer learning programs with characteristics that have been associated with student achievement in previous studies. It is our hope that this guide will make it easier for district and site leaders to provide summer programs that offer promise for children who are losing ground to their peers over long summer breaks. Future reports from the randomized controlled trial, which will start in summer 2013, will describe the effects of these programs on student academic and social-emotional outcomes. Because we are not able to include evidence of the effectiveness of these...

  17. APPENDIX A Surveys and Observations
    (pp. 51-56)
  18. APPENDIX B Cost Analyses Methods and Limitations
    (pp. 57-60)
  19. References
    (pp. 61-66)