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Latest highlights from Impacts Database point to summer learning's efficacy

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Latest highlights from Impacts Database point to summer learning's efficacy

As summer comes to a close and the school year starts back up, we wanted to recognize the importance of summer learning programs and the impact that they have on youth by highlighting some new summer evaluations in our Afterschool Impacts Database.  

Our Impacts Database offers a searchable collection of more than 130 evaluation summaries and impacts data that speaks to the effect that afterschool and summer learning programs have on youth outcomes. The database includes a variety of different outcome data that users can search for, such as student gains in academic achievement and behavior, improvement in social and emotional skills, and outcomes related to health and wellness from a diverse set of programs across the country. A recent addition to the database has also been an inclusion of outcome data related to families and parents, such as changes in parent engagement or the support that programs provide for working families. Additionally, the impacts database has a selection of rigorous studies that, under the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA), would fall under the “strong” or “moderate” tiers of effectiveness. These evaluations would include experimental and quasi-experimental design studies.

This summer, a handful of new evaluations were added to the Impacts Database, including the addition of new summer specific evaluations. One of the new studies added, Every Summer Counts: A Longitudinal Analysis of Outcomes from the National Summer Learning Project, conducted by the RAND Corporation, is the third phase of a research project commissioned by The Wallace Foundation to study the implementation of and outcomes associated with The Wallace Foundation’s National Summer Learning Project (NSLP). The study follows more than 5,600 students who were randomly selected to participate in 3rd grade through the end of 7th grade to look at the impact that participation in voluntary summer programs can have on youth. Findings from the previous phases of the study found that program attendees outperformed nonparticipating students in math achievement after the first summer of program participation, and outperformed their nonparticipating peers in math, language arts, and social and emotional skills after the second summer. The current phase of the study follows up with students three school years after the second summer of programming, and found that academic gains are still large enough to be meaningful when compared to typical gains made in year, although no longer statistically significant.

Some of the other new summer evaluations in the Impacts Database include:

  • An evaluation of Higher Achievement’s summer program, which found that students who participated in the program over the course of two years had statistically significant higher grades in math, English, and science, as well as higher overall GPAs compared to a matched group of their nonparticipating peers.
  • Findings from Massachusetts’ 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs, where, based on staff surveys, students improved their critical thinking and communication skills and relationships with adults, as well as saw gains in their engagement and perseverance during the summer.

As the research base on summer learning programs continues to grow, the Impacts Database now includes a summer program search box so users can more easily search for these specific evaluations.

To learn more about these summer program evaluations and other new studies looking at the impact of afterschool and summer learning programs on youth outcomes, take a look at the Impacts Database. If your program conducts an evaluation, feel free to send it to Bella DiMarco at bdimarco@afterschoolalliance.org to be added.

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