Summer Reading

Read for Success: Combating the Summer Learning Slide in America

Reading Is Fundamental (May 2015), Read for Success: Combating the Summer Learning Slide in America. Washington, D.C.

This research study set out to test and confirm the efficacy of a new model to reduce summer learning loss in children from economically disadvantaged communities. Researchers found that, on average, 57% of students improved their reading proficiency, instead of 80% of children showing loss.Nearly half of students in third grade — a critical grade for literacy skill building — increased reading proficiency. As part of the study, RIF distributed over 760,000 books to 33,000 children from 173 schools across 16 states. The program included science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) themed books for classrooms and media centers, as well as books for children to select and keep for themselves. RIF also provided training for teachers on how to use the classroom books to support their lessons, gave special resources to parents to help them support their children at home, and every school was given funds to use for further enrichment.

Accelerating Achievement Through Summer Learning

National Summer Learning Association (June 2015). Accelerating Achievement Through Summer Learning. Los Altos, CA: David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

This report is designed as a resource for program providers, education leaders, policymakers, and funders who are making important decisions about whether and how to strengthen and expand summer learning programs as a way to accelerate student achievement. In addition to 13 case studies of diverse program models, the report includes a look at key research on what works in summer learning and an overview of supportive state policies.

Not Getting Our Money’s Worth

Clifford, K., Christeson, B., O'Connor, J. (2015) Not Getting Our Money’s Worth: An Outdated School Schedule Is Costing New York $2.3 Billion a Year. Washington, D.C.: ReadyNation.

This report spotlights the many reasons why six-hour school days and nine-month school years were better suited to the nation's agrarian past than to the 21st century's demands and opportunities. U.S. schools are losing an estimated $21 billion each year because of summer learning loss among children from lower-income families. The report advocates adding more and higher quality learning time, with an emphasis on improved curriculum, more effective teaching, more enrichment activities, and better accountability.

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

Jennifer Sloan McCombs, John F. Pane, Catherine H. Augustine, Heather L. Schwartz, Paco Martorell, Laura Zakaras (2014). Ready for Fall? Near-Term Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Students' Learning Opportunities and Outcomes. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation.

This six-year study of summer learning programs in five urban areas revealed that while students who attended summer learning programs performed better in math, they did not experience near-term benefits in reading or see significant improvement in social and emotional outcomes compared to their peers. However, the study identified key factors linked to reading achievement. Students whose summer reading teacher had just taught the sending or receiving grade during the school year performed better on the reading test than did students with teachers unfamiliar with their grade level. Students whose reading teachers scored higher on RAND's measure of instructional quality outperformed students with lower-scoring teachers. Finally, students in summer sites rated by teachers as having strong behavior management policies and well-behaved students outperformed students in the control group in reading.

Expanding Learning, Enriching Learning: Portraits of Five Programs

Browne, Daniel; Syed, Sarosh; and Mendels, Pamela. Expanding Learning, Enriching Learning: Portraits of Five Programs. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, November 2013. Also available in print form.

These "Stories from the Field" describe five Wallace-funded programs working to expand learning and enrichment for disadvantaged children, so they can benefit from the types of opportunities their wealthier counterparts have access to, from homework help to swimming classes. The report details each program's approach, successes and challenges, offering a well-rounded picture of the effort nationally to expand learning opportunities for low-income children — and the work that remains.

Getting to Work on Summer Learning: Recommended Practices for Success

Augustine, Catherine H., Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Heather L. Schwartz and Laura Zakaras. Getting to Work on Summer Learning: Recommended Practices for Success. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, August 2013. Also available in print form.
This five-year demonstration project examines whether summer learning programs can reduce summer learning loss and promote achievement gains. This report synthesizes the key lessons learned about how to establish and sustain effective programs. The most emphatic recommendation is to start planning early, no later than January, and include both district and summer site leaders in the process. Many problems identified by the researchers — from weak teacher training to ineffective transportation — could be traced to a rushed planning process.

Getting a Head Start on the Common Core

Summer Matters (November 2013), Getting a Head Start on the Common Core, Oakland, CA: Partnership for Children and Youth.

This report describes how education leaders can use summer programs to stop summer learning loss, and build student and staff capacity to succeed in the new Common Core environment. Part of the "Putting Summer to Work" series developed by the Partnership for Children and Youth.

Expanding Time for Learning Both Inside and Outside the Classroom: A Review of the Evidence Base

Redd, Zakia; Boccanfuso, Christopher; Walker, Karen; Princiotta, Daniel; Knewstub, Dylan; and Moore, Kristin. Expanding Time for Learning Both Inside and Outside the Classroom: A Review of the Evidence Base. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, August 2012. Also available in print form.

This report reviews some 80 studies of initiatives to lengthen the school day or year or offer learning opportunities outside of school hours. Most of the studies lack the rigor needed for firm evidence of the impact of expanded time efforts on children, the report emphasizes. But the slim evidence available suggests that extending school time can help raise academic achievement, while out-of-school opportunities can boost "precursors" to achievement, such as educational expectations. And in all cases, program quality and implementation "matter a great deal."

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

McCombs, J., Augustine, C., Schwartz, H., Bodilly, S., McInnis, B., Lichter, D., Cross, A. (2011). Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Education.

A review of the literature on summer learning loss and summer learning programs, coupled with data from ongoing programs offered by districts and private providers across the U.S., demonstrates the potential of summer programs to improve achievement as well as the challenges in creating and maintaining such programs. School districts and summer programming providers can benefit from the existing research and lessons learned by other programs in terms of developing strategies to maximize program effectiveness and quality, student participation, and strategic partnerships and funding. Recommendations for providers and policymakers address ways to mitigate barriers by capitalizing on a range of funding sources, engaging in long-term planning to ensure adequate attendance and hiring, and demonstrating positive student outcomes.

Learning Time in America: Trends to Reform the American School Calendar

Farbman, D. (2011). Learning time in America: Trends to reform the American school calendar. Boston, MA: National Center on Time & Learning .

This report shows that while some states and local governments have reduced learning time in response to severe budget pressures — typically by reducing the number of days in the school year — others have prioritized expanding learning time to better prepare students for success in high school, college and the workforce. Schools, school districts, and states around the country are developing and implementing innovative and cost-effective ways to expand learning time for students in an effort to boost students' academic achievement and provide a well-rounded education, according to the most comprehensive study of time and learning policies ever conducted.

Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded-Time Schools

Kaplan, Claire, and Roy Chan. Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded-Time Schools. Rep. Boston: National Center on Time & Learning, 2011.

This report reshapes the field for expanded-time schools by outlining specific practices that can lead to dramatic increases in student achievement and preparation for success in college and the workforce. Time Well Spent offers an in-depth examination of 30 expanded-time schools serving high-poverty populations with impressive track records of student success, and demonstrates how these schools leverage their additional time in order to implement other critical reforms.

Tracking an Emerging Movement: A Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America

Farbman, D.A. (2009). Tracking an Emerging Movement: A Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America. Boston, MA: National Center on Time and Learning.

This article presents a report on expanded-time (ET) schools in America produced by the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL). Extracting and analyzing information from NCTL's database of 655 schools, this report describes trends emerging among these schools, including issues related to costs, time use, and student outcomes. The searchable database is available at Though findings cannot be considered conclusive — the field of expanded-time schools is too new and decentralized to be confident that the database is fully representative — they do highlight the relatively widespread use and potential benefits of expanded time. Data analysis suggests a positive relationship between student achievement and school time. The characteristics of expanded-time schools and trends in teacher and student time are discussed.

Structuring Out-of-School Time to Improve Academic Achievement

Beckett, M., Borman, G., Capizzano, J., Parsley, D., Ross, S., Schirm, A., & Taylor, J. (2009). Structuring out-of-school time to improve academic achievement: A practice guide (NCEE #2009-012). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from

Out-of-school time programs can enhance academic achievement by helping students learn outside the classroom. The five recommendations in this guide are intended to help district and school administrators, out-of-school program providers, and educators design out-of-school time programs that will increase learning for students. The guide also describes the research supporting each recommendation, how to carry out each recommendation, and how to address roadblocks that might arise in implementing them.

The Learning Season: The Untapped Power of Summer to Advance Student Achievement

Miller, B. (2007). The Learning Season: The Untapped Power of Summer to Advance Student Achievement. Quincy, MA: Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

This report shows that summer enrichment opportunities have a much more profound impact than previously believed on the academic achievement of young people.

Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap

Alexander, K.L., Entwisle, D.R., and Olson, L.S. (2007). Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap. American Sociological Review, vol. 72, April, 167–180.

This study offers new insights as to why low-income children lag behind their more privileged classmates in high school graduation rates and college attendance. In a study of 790 Baltimore Public School students, sociologists found the difference in children's future academic success can be explained, in part, by their experiences during their summer vacations.

On the Clock: Rethinking the Way Schools Use Time

Silva, E. (2007). On the clock: Rethinking the way schools use time. Washington, DC: Education Sector.

This report examines both the educational and political dimensions of time reform. It presents the findings of a wide range of research on time reform, discusses the impact of various time reforms on the life of schools and beyond, and makes recommendations for policymakers about how to best leverage time in and out of school to improve student achievement.

"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln