Summer Learning

About Summer Learning

Summer is a critical time to ensure that kids have safe, engaging places to go that provide rich learning environments. During the summer, many kids experience summer learning loss and lack access to nutritious meals. Summer learning programs differ from remedial summer schools in that academics are supplemental to more enriching and engaging learning experiences.

Key Information

  • Most students lose two months of grade level equivalency in math skills during the summer. Low-income students lose more than two months of reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle class peers make slight gains.
  • More than half of the achievement gap between ninth grade lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.
  • Only 25 percent of children (an estimated 14.3 million) participate in summer learning programs. 43 percent of summer participants qualify for free/reduced price lunch.
  • Children who participate in afterschool and expanded learning programs during the regular school year participate in summer learning programs at much higher levels than children who do not.
  • 56 percent of non-participating children (an estimated 24 million) would be likely to participate in a summer learning program, based on parent interest. What’s more, nearly half the children who are likely to participate in a summer learning program are eligible for free/ reduced price lunch.

Strategies to Support Summer Learning

  • Participate in Summer Learning Day and urge programs in your statewide afterschool network to participate.
  • Advocate for increased resources for 21st Century Community Learning Centers—the only federal funding stream dedicated exclusively to afterschool and summer programs.
  • Help ensure that proposals to lengthen the school year maximize the resources of both schools and community organizations.
  • Identify summer meal programs for low-income children and encourage school districts and community providers to include enrichment programs at these sites.

General Publications

This report examines the impact of the Higher Achievement program on youth's experiences and learning during the summer of 2010.
By re-envisioning summer school districts could utilize existing funds to make summer programs an essential school reform strategy.
This brief outlines a conversation with James Kim, assistant professor of education at Harvard University.

Network Publications

The Indiana Afterschool Network describes key components of its sucessful afterschool programs.
A policy brief of what is happening in Washington state during the summer and includes recommendations around improving quality and increasing access to summer learning programs.
The summer months represent a critical time period for learning and development, and too often, summer becomes a missed opportunity.