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Does Summer Learning Have a Long-Term Impact?

Six school districts around the country will be expanding and enhancing their summer programs this summer with support from an initial $2.7 million grant from the Wallace Foundation, according to a report released today. The grant is part of a $50 million, five-year initiative Wallace will undertake to see whether summer programs in these districts, and possibly others, can have long term effects on summer slide for low-income students.(Wallace also underwrites coverage of extended/expanded learning in Education Week.)

The districts: Boston, Cincinnati, Dallas, Jacksonville, Fla., Pittsburgh, and Rochester, N.Y., were selected based on the existence of already-established summer programs and pledges to continue working to combat summer learning loss. After this summer, the foundation will work with each district to determine how it can build programs moving forward, with the potential for increased funding from the foundation.

Wallace will also work with the RAND Corp. this summer and next to assess the impact of efforts to expand the six districts' summer programs. Next year, RAND plans to publish a report on the information gathered on best practices that it hopes will influence other districts to improve their own. (The Wallace-RAND partnership was instrumental in research released last month that analyzed the impact of summer learning loss and what summer programs can do to help reduce it.)

Additionally, in 2013 and 2014, rising 4th graders in all district programs will be monitored in the summer and throughout the school year to see whether there are lasting, longitudinal effects on summer program participants, with particular attention given to academic outcomes and behavior changes.

While research has shown that participating in a single summer program can reduce summer learning loss for students, there has been no research to test whether attending a summer program for consecutive summers can have greater and more long-lasting effects on closing the achievement gap, said Ed Pauly, director of research and evaluation at the Wallace Foundation. The foundation hopes that the research from this initiative might bring light to some of those questions.

Look for my story on some other cities that have made summer programs a priority, out next week.

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