Summer Learning

Research shows that up to two-thirds of the achievement gap between low-income students and their higher income peers can be explained by unequal access to summer opportunities. Recognizing this issue, the City of Boston, along with the Boston Opportunity Agenda, The Wallace Foundation, and other key funders are investing in more than 1,500 new program slots to expand summer learning access.  Boston After School & Beyond and the Boston Public Schools co-manage this effort.

Check out the Summer Insight Center to access information and best practices on planning and delivering high-quality summer programs.

Boston Summer Learning Project

Boston’s approach to summer learning addresses the knowledge, skills, and experiences young people need to acquire in order to succeed in school, college, work, and life.  Schools draw on the strengths of teachers and leading program providers to provide a full-day, integrated learning experience.

Each program employs a different mix of time, location, enrichment, and staffing based on the specific needs and interests of their students.  All are focused on the common goals of academic progress in math and language arts and improvement in specific power skills (critical thinking, perseverance, relationships, and self-regulation).

You can view a map of our Summer Learning Project sites here.

Boston Summer Learning Community 2014

A special thank you to our funders:

Barr Foundation, The Boston Foundation, Boston Public Schools, Boston Opportunity Agenda, Charles Hayden Foundation, Eos Foundation, Klarman Family Foundation, Kraft Family Foundation, National Summer Learning Association, Nellie Mae Education FoundationUnited Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, and The Wallace Foundation.

 Research and Reports

Boston Summer Learning Community Measurement ToolsRAND Report: Ready for Fall?RAND Report: Getting to Work on Summer LearningRAND Report: Making Summer CountNSLA: Summer Starts in SeptemberSummer Learning Project 2013 Info BookletBoston Learns Together: Summer LearningSummer Learning UpdatesDiscussion Guide: Summer Learning – A New Vision for Supporting Students in Summer ProgramsSurvey: More Parents Report Enrolling Their Children in Summer Learning Programs

Boston Summer Learning Community Measurement Tools

     In 2014, 58 summer program sites in Greater Boston implemented common program quality measurement tools to consistently define, implement, and measure program-level outcomes. This emerging Boston Summer Learning Community plans year round for summer, using the common program quality measurement tools as the basis for increasing student access to summer learning, improving the quality of programs, and scaling best practices. Using these common tools enables site leaders to benchmark progress, identify strengths, and learn from peers to address challenges.
     The “Overview of Measurement Tools” provides a summary of all tools implemented through summer learning. If you are interested in learning about each individual tool, the “APT Overview” and “SAYO Y Overview” provide a summary of the program quality measurement instruments implemented by all 58 sites. A subset of sites implemented the SAYO T (see “SAYO T Overview”) and HSA (see “HSA Overview”) to measure student skill development.
     Programs involved in the Boston Summer Learning Community previously received full copies of the above measurement tools.

Overview of Measurement Tools

HSA Overview

SAYO T Overview

APT Overview

SAYO Y Overview


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

Ready for Fall ImagePrior research has determined that low-income students lose more ground over the summer than their higher-income peers. Prior research has also shown that some summer learning programs can stem this loss, but we do not know whether large, district-run, voluntary programs can improve students’ outcomes. To fill this gap, The Wallace Foundation launched the National Summer Learning Study in 2011. This five-year study offers the first-ever assessment of the effectiveness of large-scale, voluntary, district-run, summer learning programs serving low-income elementary students. The study, conducted by RAND, uses a randomized controlled trial to assess the effects of district-run voluntary summer programs on student achievement and social and emotional skills over the short and long run. All students in the study were in the third grade as of spring 2013 and enrolled in a public school in one of five urban districts: Boston; Dallas; Duval County, Florida; Pittsburgh; or Rochester, New York. This report, the second of five that will result from the study, looks at how summer programs affected student performance on mathematics, reading, and social and emotional assessments in fall 2013.

Click here to read the full report.

Getting to Work on Summer Learning: Recommended Practices for Success

gett toThis report offers guidance to district leaders across the country who are interested in launching summer learning programs or improving programs that are already established. Our recommendations are based on the evaluations of summer programs in six urban districts in the summer of 2011. These districts—Boston; Cincinnati; Dallas; Duval County, Florida; Pittsburgh; and Rochester, New York—were selected for a multiyear   demonstration project funded by The Wallace Foundation to assess their effectiveness in improving student achievement. They are among the nation’s most advanced in their experience with comprehensive, voluntary   summer learning programs.

Click here to read the full report. 

Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning 

making summer countSummer learning programs have the potential to help children and youth improve their academic and social-emotional learning outcomes. This is especially true for children from low-income families who might not have access to educational resources throughout the summer months and for low-achieving students who need additional time to master academic content. However, summer learning programs are often an afterthought of school districts or not offered at all, especially in restrictive funding environments.

To focus attention on the potential of such programs, this monograph reviews the literature on summer learning loss and the effectiveness of summer learning programs, determines key cost drivers of and available funds for summer programs, and gathers information about how such programs operate in district and city contexts, including facilitators and challenges.

Click here to read the full report. 

National Summer Learning Association: Summer Starts in September

NSLAAs soon as one summer ends, it’s time to start planning for the next one. The new Summer Starts in September: Comprehensive Planning Guide for Summer Learning Programs includes 200 pages of research-based strategies, program examples, and tools that summer program staff, leaders, and trainers can use to develop an intentional, high-impact program.

The guide is brought to life by 80 summer learning quality indicators, developed and tested through years of partnership with summer learning programs, researchers, and trainers. Together, these indicators make up the National Summer Learning Association’s Comprehensive Assessment of Summer Programs (CASP).

Click here to read an excerpt from the guide.  

Summer Learning Project 2013 Info Booklet

(1) CoverThis booklet provides an in-depth look at the past three years of the Boston Summer Learning Project.  It outlines the Project’s approach, as well as its impact on all involved: students, teachers, Boston Public Schools, and community partners.

Click here to read the booklet. 

Boston Learns Together: Summer Learning

Summer Learning Final 12.31.13_Page_1The achievement gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers is explained largely by unequal access to learning opportunities beyond the school day. Summer is an especially precious resource. Students who don’t participate in summer learning programs lose substantial knowledge and skills gained during the school year. This well-documented “summer learning slide” most adversely affects low-income students, is cumulative across a young person’s lifetime, and represents an expensive leak in our educational pipeline. Mounting evidence suggests that quality summer programs can stem this loss and, in some cases, even accelerate students’ progress.

Click here to read the full report.


Discussion Guide: Summer Learning – A New Vision for Supporting Students in Summer Programs

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) Summer Learning Discussion Guide is now available. Developed with support from the Wallace Foundation, Summer Learning – A New Vision for Supporting Students in Summer Programs provides contemporary research on the devastating impact of summer learning loss on student achievement, elements of effective summer learning programs, state-level examples of action and guiding questions to help design a policy framework to support and develop quality summer learning programs.

Click here to read the full report. 

Survey: More Parents Report Enrolling Their Children in Summer Learning Programs

Summer report imageThe Afterschool Alliance polled parents nationwide this past spring.  Some 33 percent reported having sent at least one child to a summer learning program last year. That figure is a jump from 25 percent in 2009, the last time the Afterschool Alliance conducted the survey.

About half of parents surveyed reported that they would want their child to participate in a summer learning program this summer if a high-quality program were available.

The data come in an official “sneak peek” of findings from the third edition of America After 3 PM, based on a survey of 13,709 households conducted with support from funders including The Wallace Foundation. Scheduled for release this fall, the report will include full findings about nationwide demand for afterschool.

Click here to read the full findings.