Learn What Works in North Carolina
North Carolina could evaluate the effectiveness of summer learning programs in the state, gather data on characteristics and costs of those programs, publish results and make it easy for parents and teachers to enroll students online ineffective programs.
The national research base around summer learning is not yet as strong as the research for other factors that impact third-grade reading. More information is still needed on:
- What works to prevent summer slide
- What summer learning programs are available and how accessible they are1
Research on summer learning reading outcomes has found some challenges,2 including:
- Few research studies on summer reading programs measure teacher-student interactions in the summer classroom
- Few cost-effectiveness evaluations of summer reading programs
- Studies aren’t always comparable. For example, some studies have shown a benefit from programs with small class sizes and longer summer hours of operation. Other studies did not find this effect. It is not clear that all programs had the same level of intensity (class size and duration)
- While some reading intervention summer programs may result in short-term gains, in general, these gains decline over time unless reinforced during the school year
A research review of summer learning programs identified core characteristics shared by many effective programs. Considering these core characteristics could help North Carolina determine which programs are most likely to be effective. The characteristics include:
- Students in attendance at least six hours a day for at least five weeks during the summer
- Small group sizes
- Instruction matched to student needs and interests
- Curricula aligned across the school year and the summer program
- A program of both enrichment (introducing students to new topics and experiences) and remediation (improving deficient skills)3
- Content is delivered by qualified staff4
North Carolina does not appear to have a single online gateway to high-quality summer learning programs for parents to use.
- Education Commission of the States, Summer Learning: Moving from the Periphery to the Core. Op cit. ↵
- Kim, J. S. & Quinn, D. M. (2013). The effects of summer reading on low-income children’s literacy achievement from Kindergarten to Grade 8: A meta-analysis of classroom and home interventions, Review of Educational Research, 83(3), 386-431. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/dmq/files/kim-quinn-summer_reading_meta-analysis-rer-2013.pdf ↵
- McCombs, J., Augustine, C., Schwartz, H., Bodilly, S., Dahlia, B. & Cross, A. (2011). Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning. RAND Education. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2011/RAND_MG1120.pdf ↵
- Canosa, M. (2016). Are Summer Programs Effective in Improving Learning and Educational Outcomes for Students. What Works in Education. Retrieved from http://www.ivalua.cat/documents/1/05_07_2016_10_24_36_Summer_programs_Whatworks_03_.pdf ↵
Include Summer Learning in State ESSA Plan and Other Federal Funding Sources
North Carolina and local school districts can blend and braid existing federal Title I, II, III, and IV funds to increase summer learning offerings, as well as access other federal resources. In 2011, the cost of providing a high-quality summer learning program was between $1,000 and $2,800 per child for a five-week, six-hour long program.
- ESSA. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act makes room for states and districts to invest in summer enrichment and learning. Guidance on including summer learning in ESSA plans is available from the National Summer Learning Association.1
- Strategic Planning. The 2016 Action Toolkit: Expanding Summer Learning, Meals and Jobs for America’s Young People offers guidance on strategic planning to expand summer learning opportunities across funding sources.2
- Other Federal Sources. The National Summer Learning Association provides a comprehensive listing of federal sources of funding for summer learning.3
- National Summer Learning Association. (2016). Inclusion of Summer Learning Opportunities within State Plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Guide for Stakeholders. http://www.summerlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/NSLA-ESSA-guide-for-state-level-stakeholders.pdf ↵
- The National Summer Learning Association. (n.d.). Federal Funding Opportunities for Summer Learning. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from https://summerlearning.site-ym.com/?page=FundingOpportunities ↵
- National Summer Learning Association, the White House, and Civic Nation. (2016). 2016 Action Toolkit: Expanding Summer Learning, Meals and Jobs for America’s Young People. Retrieved from http://www.summerlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Action-Brief-2016-6.pdf ↵
Provide Nutrition Over the Summer
Intentionally expand access to healthy summer food programs for low-income children, including through the federal Summer Food Service Program.
Children cannot learn when they are hungry, and summer can be a hungry time for many low-income children who rely on school meals during the school year. The Summer Food Service Program, administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and managed by states, provides free and nutritious breakfasts and lunches during the summer for children from low-income families. But in 2014, only one in six children eligible for the Summer Food Service Program nationwide received meals during the summer. Lack of access and low program participation leaves children hungry, contributes to poor health and development, and leaves millions of federal dollars unused.1
North Carolina and local communities could use the USDA’s extensive Summer Meal Toolkit to guide community and county efforts to increase access to summer meals for low-income children. Topics covered include hosting and recruiting sites, partnerships, policy and administration, sponsor operations and statewide administration.2
- National Summer Learning Association, U.S. Department of Education, The White House, Civic Nation. (2016) Summer Opportunities: Expanding Access to Sumer Learning, Jobs, and Meals for America’s Young People. 2016 Funding Resource Guide. Retrieved from: http://www.summerlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FundingResourceGuide2016.pdf ↵
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Summer Meals Toolkit. Retrieved April 18, 2017 from https://www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/summer-meals-toolkit#Start ↵
Improve Coordination of and Access to Summer Learning Programs
The National Summer Learning Association recommends five strategies to improve access to and coordination of summer learning programs,1including:
- Partnering among summer learning providers to provide access to a broader range of services and less duplication of efforts. These partners may include summer meals sites and sponsors, schools, community-based and faith-based organizations, libraries, museums, parks and recreation centers, youth employment sponsors, and others.
- Finding sustainable funding. Many existing funding streams are able to support summer learning. Smart use of existing pools of funding and greater collaboration between youth-serving sectors can greatly increase impact during the summer.
- Allowing use of funding for summer learning. Policymakers should clearly define that summer activities are an allowable use of the various public funding streams that are targeted to youth, especially those who are struggling academically or are considered at-risk. For example, K-12 education funding streams can often be used for summer learning as well.
- Building a summer learning infrastructure. A community-wide summer learning infrastructure would help summer learning programs coordinate with each other and with school-year programs that serve the same students. These structures can also help with monitoring and maintain the quality of programs through evaluation and professional development.
- Providing data to learn what works. More research is still needed on effective strategies and best practices for summer learning, including through summer school, youth employment, nutrition programs, enrichment programs, and more. Providing data and information across summer programs will add to this knowledge base.
- National Summer Learning Association. Policy Priorities. (2016). Retrieved July 16, 2017, from http://www.summerlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016_NSLA_policy_priorities.pdf ↵
Provide Books Matched to Students’ Reading Levels
Giving children books over the summer can improve their literacy, regardless of their prior reading proficiency or income status.1
Allowing first and second-grade children to self-select 15 books each summer for three consecutive years has been found to increase reading proficiency as much as attending summer school for three years, at a fraction of the cost.2 The right level of books is important. Students who self-select from books aligned with their reading levels and interests make greater gains than students who choose books that don’t match their reading levels.3
- Kim, J.S. (2004). Summer Reading and the Ethnic Achievement Gap. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 9(2), 169-188 Retrieved from http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/jameskim/files/2004_ms1583-summerreading-edited_website.pdf ↵
- Allington, R. and McGill-Franzen, A. (2015). The Reading Achievement Gap: Why Do Poor Students Lag Behind Rich Students in Reading Development? Booksource Banter Blog. Retrieved from http://www.booksourcebanter.com/2015/05/08/reading-achievement-gap/ ↵
- Kim, J. and Guryan, J. (2010). The efficacy of a voluntary summer book reading intervention for low-income Latino children from language minority families. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(1), 20-31 Retrieved from http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:28983160 and Kim, J. (2016). Making Summer Reading Effective: Research Brief. National Center for Summer Learning. Retrieved June 29, 2017, https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/jameskim/files/prof_pub-jhu-research_brief_03_-_kim_v04.pdf
Providing books over the summer also make it easier for parents to read with their children. When parents or other adults read with children using dialogic reading (a practice where adults prompt children with questions while reading with them), children’s reading comprehension improves.[4. What Works Clearinghouse. (2007). Dialogic Reading. https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/Docs/InterventionReports/WWC_Dialogic_Reading_020807.pdf ↵
Invest in Programs Shown to Improve Summer Learning
The following programs can improve summer learning.
- Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL)
- Freedom School Partners