Program Quality

Summer Learning – A Smart Investment for California School Districts

Throughout California, school district leaders are using their newfound flexibility under LCFF to put summer to work in ways that serve equity goals. Their summer learning programs take many shapes and involve creative partnerships customized to meet local needs and circumstances.

The most promising programs offer powerful and enriching experiences to young people who need those experiences most. They blend learning and laughing, academics and engagement, purposefulness and plain
old fun. They require planning, resources, and creativity. And they work.

Effective Summer Learning Programs: Case Studies

There’s no doubt that budget cuts have had a tremendous impact on the availability of summer learning programs throughout California. But with a little creativity and a lot of dedication, some communities have managed to overcome the obstacles and create effective programs that are engaging students, expanding in size and scope, and demonstrating positive outcomes.

Diving Into Summer Learning Programs

Summer learning programs are distinctively different from traditional summer school programs. For Nazaneen Khalilnaji-Otto, the Summer Matters campaign director at the Partnership for Children and Youth, one word sums up the difference between the summer learning model and summer school: “fun.” Summer learning takes on a “camp-like culture,” and these programs are generally open to all students, rather than only students seeking remedial or advanced coursework.

2017 Summer Matters Road Trip Media Coverage

The Summer Matters Road Trip was huge this year! We traveled to programs in 15 different cities, spreading the word about the importance of summer learning. But don’t take our word for it, check out the media coverage of several of the stops on the road trip.

Summer program helps narrow the gap for Sacramento kids

Studies show the detrimental effects of summer learning loss. According to the National Summer Learning Association, some children experience one to three months of reading loss during the summer, a phenomenon that affects mainly low-income students without access to academic materials when not in school.

Circle up: Teaching social-emotional skills year round

Creating places that feel safe for students has been the raison d’être of summer programs like Aim High, as it has been for hundreds of after-school programs in school districts across the state. Yet for many school principals who are casting about for ways to improve students’ sense of physical and emotional safety — and in doing so, students’ interest in being at school and learning — the idea of calling on summer school and after-school experts hasn’t occurred to them. But that is starting to change.

Free summer camps help kids stay active

Summertime doesn’t always mean kids lounging around the house playing video games once school gets out. Several hundred students, in fact, began their summer vacation by exercising their bodies and brains at two free elementary and middle school camps, thanks to the Napa County Office of Education.

Summer program teaches key skills to prepare children for kindergarten

The Summer Pre-K camp, located in several schools in East and West Oakland, runs for four weeks and provides free breakfast and lunch as well as parent-and teacher workshops, home visits and dental screenings. It is financially supported by the non-profit organizations First 5 Alameda County and Oakland Fund for Children and Youth.

The program is part of a renewed effort across California to ensure that children without preschool experience are not at risk of falling behind, as the academic requirements for kindergarten increase. Early education advocates say early learning is critical to success in later grades and that research indicates noticeable gaps in skills often occur before a child enters kindergarten.

Why Fun Matters: The Fight Against Summer Learning Loss

Kids are returning to school this month, and according to the National Summer Learning Association, about nine out of 10 teachers will spend as much as three weeks on review because of summer learning loss. That’s something school districts and libraries continually try to fight with academic programs.

End of Summer Program Reflection

Meeting Objectives to:
Celebrate the accomplishments of program
Generate solutions to common program challenges
Share programs best practices
Apply a strategic management model to turn data into action plans
Determine root causes of performance gaps and develop strategic responses

Meeting Outcomes:
 Participants have identified actions and ideas to improve their program in 2017