10 Things to Look for When Building Your Summer School Program

Mar 26, 2024
Summer school blog image

While summer school is months away, it’s not too early to begin making your district’s plans. Summer school programs have grown, with schools prioritizing learning recovery, and all signs point to their role in providing intervention services, credit recovery, and tutoring. An NBC News analysis of four of the five largest school districts in the nation found that priorities for federal aid spending include increasing instructional time through tutoring, summer school, and after-school and enrichment programs.

There’s evidence to suggest summer programs work, making them a wise investment for you and an effective offering for your students.

  • A 2013 meta-analysis found that summer interventions are likely most effective for improving outcomes for low-income students and narrowing the achievement gap between students who are poor and those who are not.
  • According to the Leveraging Summer for Student Success report, unequal summer learning opportunities during elementary school years are responsible for about two-thirds of the 9th grade achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth

As you’re designing your own summer learning program, what should you be looking for in a curriculum and assessment partner? Ensure that any technology partner you chose prioritizes these 10 essential elements.

1. A Proven-Effective Plan

Assembling the funding, resources, and logistics surrounding any summer program is not an easy feat. Do your hard work justice by implementing a proven program that is backed by third-party research (including efficacy that meets the requirements for your funding source) and robust stories of success to demonstrate impact.

2. Prioritization of Growth and Acceleration

We know that students have fallen behind academically since the COVID pandemic, and although educators are working tirelessly to regain learning loss, it can’t simply be a return to normal. Look for a partner that tailors instruction to each student’s appropriate level, incorporating thoughtful scaffolding while moving students forward efficiently so that they’re increasingly prepared to access grade-level content.

3. Flexible, Continuous Instruction

If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that the learning environment is not fixed—it ebbs and flows based on different seasons and student needs. Can your programming partner bend and flex in the same way?

4. Rigorous Standards-Based Curriculum and Assessments

The goal of any online learning partner should be to present standards-rich instruction in a clear, a concise, and an accessible way for all students. Look for a partner that can provide tight alignments so that you know that the time your students are spending is focused on what they need to know most.

5. Evidence-Based Pedagogy and Design

The best programs are grounded in sound research and assessment design. Does your partner prioritize these same ideals? Look for a curriculum that uses active learning to deepen engagement in material, minimizing passive reception of information.

6. Aligned Resources and Notes

Sometimes, online learning needs to extend beyond the computer screen. Look for a partner that includes things like study guides, guided notes, and printable activities to shake up the learning process and keep students on track in their studies.

7. Checks for Understanding

The feedback loop for educators often hinges on the ability to effectively utilize formative assessments. Does your partner provide ongoing built-in quizzes or other progress checks to show that students are making gains and that instruction is tightly aligned to student needs?

8. Deliberate Practice and Immediate Feedback

Intentional and aligned practice assessment is the bedrock of solidifying long-term learning. Can your partner offer intentional practice to support increasing levels of understanding and immediate coaching to improve student success?

9. Relevant, Real-World Examples

At the heart of student motivation and engagement is the ability for learning to feel relatable and useful. When programs prioritize relevant, real-world examples, students can draw on background knowledge and make connections that helps learning stick.

10. Real-Time Data

One of the key benefits of any good online learning program is the incredible time savings you get with greatly reduced grading and data readily at your fingertips. Ensure that you have a partner that’s providing the data you need immediately and in a manner you can use. Look for a mix of interactive, drillable data views and exportable, customizable reports. 

For additional resources on building a summer school program, visit Edmentum’s Summer Planning & Success Toolkit.

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