Summer learning programs

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities and promote healthy childhood environments. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve these outcomes are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Increased academic instruction as well as athletic and artistic activities for students
  • Typically operate 4–8 hours per day, four or five days a week
  • Provide support and reinforcement for academic skills or help prevent their attrition over summer break

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)

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Proven (highest tier)

Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps


Target population

All school-aged children

Program cost

Estimated $7-19 per student per hour

Implementation locations

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Increased academic achievement
  • Improvements in social and emotional competencies
  • Several studies have shown significant gains for students in math and reading when attending summer programs focused on these skills
  • Longer duration programs with well-trained and evaluated staff typically yield more positive results

Keys to successful implementation

  • Conduct thorough planning well in advance of the summer. Planning should begin no later than January.
  • Identify a dedicated director to plan the summer program. This person should be able to dedicate at least half their time to the program.
  • Set the number of summer teachers with a realistic expectation that a significant portion of initial enrollees will not attend the program.
  • Set clear student eligibility guidelines for the program. Some summer programs are designed for all students, while others are open only to certain student groups, like ELL students.
  • Operate the program for five to six weeks with three to four hours of academics per day.
  • Hire summer teachers based on merit, motivation, and grade-level experience. Be mindful to hire staff with experience providing for students with special needs.
  • Establish a clear attendance policy, setting the expectation that students should attend every day. Expectations should be no different from the regular school year.

Summer learning - Tuscaloosa, AL

Summer learning - Tuscaloosa, AL

Tuscaloosa Summer Learning Program: Affordable, high-quality summer learning for students in Tuscaloosa City Schools

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