Investing in Summer Learning: Stories from the Field

Summer learning loss contributes to the achievement gap between low income students and their more fortunate peers. Thus, investing in summer learning programs is an impactful and appropriate use of the supplemental and concentration grant funding school districts in California receive for low-income students and English learners. Throughout the state, these funds provided by the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) are supporting programs that combine much-needed academic content with fun, engaging activities. Unlike traditional summer school, they look and feel like summer camp while incorporating intentional learning goals aligned with school priorities.

During the summer of 2015, school districts, county offices of education, and community based organizations throughout California worked together to provide productive summer learning experiences to young people of all ages. They built on innovations and infrastructure developed between 2009 and 2014 in 12 different communities as part of the Summer Matters Campaign. Whether located in Red Bluff or Los Angeles, summer learning programs provide low-income children with learning experiences that look distinctly different from the school year and traditional summer school. They also take many different forms, shaped by the needs, resources, experiences, and systems of the local community and school districts.

This report describes how the decision to invest in summer in 2015 played out in three different communities faced with different challenges and focused on different opportunities.