Reports

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.

Cracking the Code to a Successful Summer Reading Program

What could happen when students are engaged with just-right, high-interest books over the summer months? At Orange County Public Schools (FL), a six-week summer reading academy increase average Lexile scores by 44%. In the summer of 2015, South Berwyn, Illinois, a district where 100% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch and 90% are English language learners, defied the odds and not only avoided summer slide but experienced a significant increase in reading proficiency.

The Developing Brain: Implications for Youth Programs

There is increasing global attention to the growing field of brain research, but what are we learning today that may inform programs that serve children? How do environment and life experiences impact brain development? What can be done to mitigate the negative effects of trauma on the brain? As our knowledge of the brain grows, so too does the opportunity to use this information to actively shape programs, practices, and policies that promote the well-being of children and youth.

OSLN 2016 Summer Learning Landscape Assessment

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) partners with a number of community-based organizations (CBOs) to serve more than 6,500 students. Through the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth (OFCY), the city provides funding to CBOs to serve more than 2,400 students, many in partnership with OUSD programming. Still more students are served by Oakland Parks and Recreation, city libraries, and community based organizations operating alongside this system. With such great diversity of programs, funding, and partnerships, there is a need for coordination and collaboration to ensure as many young people as possible are provided with high-quality summer learning opportunities.

How Summer Learning Strengthens Student Success

How Summer Learning Strengthens Students’ Success is an independent evaluation of three Summer Matters pilot programs. The report measures impact on students’ academic achievement – both during the summer months and extending throughout the school year. Analysis of the data concluded high quality summer learning programs in Fresno, Los Angeles and Sacramento have bolstered students’ academic success by strengthening their academic skills in general and literacy skills in particular, and increasing the effectiveness of their work habits and confidence in their abilities as learners.

The Skills to Pay the Bills

Nonprofit organizations serving young people exist to provide meaningful opportunities for those young people to build their skills; experience positive, supportive relationships; and prepare for the future. No one would judge an organization’s worth by its financial soundness alone, but financially unhealthy programs threaten an organization’s ability to achieve its mission. Unfortunately, although they are critical to effective management, core organizational capabilities and effective administrative functions often are mistakenly perceived as peripheral to an organization’s mission.

How Summer Matters is Changing the Course of Expanded Learning in California.

By the time a low-income child enters fifth grade, he or she can be up to three grade levels behind other classmates in reading and math. One key contributor to this gap is the absence of learning opportunities during summer months, which results in learning loss.

National Academy of Sciences Hosts Summer Learning Panel

On August 25, 2016, The Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Science hosted a panel on summertime opportunities in Washington DC. The workshop validated the value of a summer learning approach not only for student academic achievement, but also for students’ health outcomes. A report outlining the workshop was just published.

The Cost of Summer

Summer can be a costly time for low-income families. According to Jennifer Peck, Executive Director of the Partnership for Children and Youth, “While middle-income children retain knowledge or, in many cases, make gains over the summer, low-income children fall behind.” Summer learning programs are a cost effective way to prevent summer learning loss and close the opportunity gap. In order to better understand the cost of such investments, Summer Matters conducted a small survey of partner organizations offering high quality summer learning opportunities in California.