- In 2009, only 35 states and the District of Columbia had summer school policies.
- In 2017, 41% of high school students were enrolled in summer school.
- More than 97% of the top universities offer summer programs for high school and middle school students.
- Just 18% of low-income students will enroll in summer school compared to 29% of non-poor households.
- Continued attendance in summer school could result in up to 25% of improvement in mathematics.
- Continuous enrollment in summer school may improve language capabilities by up to 23%.
- In the wake of the pandemic, up to 79% of schools are preparing to offer online summer school classes.
As there is an increased focus and significance placed on education, summer school has enjoyed a resurgence. There still is quite a bit that most parents, students, and even educators don’t understand about these programs.
Summer school has found to be quite instrumental in academic retention and performance. As such, it is imperative to appreciate the various influences and effects of the system. This increases the chances of summer school being developed and utilized as needed.
Summer School Structure and Funding
It is presumed that every school automatically offers summer school programs. However, this isn’t the case – only a small portion of institutions make this service available to students. This is largely to do with the inconsistent budgets for summer schools.
- In 2009, only 35 states and the District of Columbia had policies for summer school.
- A survey of a 1000 Southern states showed that over 30% of schools don’t offer summer programs.
- Among the states that have programs, the average budget ranges from $24.1 million to $492.5 million.
- California proposed a $4.6 billion budget for summer school to make up for pandemic-related school year setbacks.
- Over 97% of the top universities offer summer programs for high school students and even middle school children.
Summer School Attendance
The demographics of the summer school students is still not as diverse as the actual school population. At the same time, attendance isn’t as high as it should be either. This has an impact on how effective summer school can be for students across the board.
- In 2017, 41% of 16 to 19-year olds were enrolled in summer school.
- A five week summer program represents 15% of the school year and 10% of the calendar year.
- The average daily attendance for extended summer courses varies from 60% to 80%.
- 29% of non-poor students were likely to attend summer programs in contrast to 18% of low-income students.
- 61% of white students are likely to participate in summer learning programs.
- In contrast, only 18% of Black students, 14% of Hispanic students, 5% of Asian students, and 2% of Native Americans would attend summer school.
The Effect of Summer School
It is presumed that summer school has a positive impact on student’s academic careers. However, the actual extent isn’t known. Research has shown that students at every stage can benefit from summer school. In particular, enrolling students at a smaller grade has a marked positive impact.
- Kindergarteners randomly assigned to summer school outperformed their peers by .06 of a standard deviation.
- First graders performed 0.75 of a standard deviation better than their peers who didn’t attend summer school.
- In general, 40% to 50% of multi-year summer school attendees held an advantage of one grade level in post-tests.
- Students with high attendance gained a 25% near-term benefit in mathematics.
- One year later, the there was a 13% benefit for students in the subject.
- Extended attendance can result in between 20% and 25% in annual gain in mathematics.
- Continued attendance can result in between 20% and 23% in annual gain in language arts.
Summer School During the Pandemic
The pandemic has changed many aspects of education and summer school is no exception. Fewer physical locations are available than before. There are also a lower number of invitations to summer school.
- 79% of school districts are providing summer learning online.
- 51% of schools are recommending summer school only for children who are falling behind academically.
- Online summer school can help to prevent loss of 50% of math gains.
- Summer school during pandemic may prevent 30% of loss in reading gains.
Summer School Costs
One of the reasons that summer school isn’t readily available has to do with the cost. Though summer school is available for a shorter period of time and for fewer hours of the day, the cost can be significant. As a result, many schools don’t budget for it.
- In 2014, the cost per attending student was between $1,070 and $1,700.
- On average, cost per student present was between $1,860 and $2,100.
- The cost per student per hour was between $6.60 and $7.50.
- In 2020, it was estimated that the cost of nationwide summer schools would be around $8.1 billion.
Summer school does have a greater positive impact on student’s academic performance than initially expected. Despite this, a minimal number of schools make this option available to students. The average cost of such service tends to be a barrier.
Nevertheless, there is an increased push for summer school in certain school districts. This is primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, there is a chance that this evolution could become a permanent change for specific schools and school districts.
 Education Commission of the States, Issues In Funding Summer School Programs
 John Lock Foundation, Should Students Be Required to Attend Summer School Due to COVID-19 School Closures?
 EdSource, Gov. Newsom proposes $4.6 billion for Summer School, More Learning Time in 2021-22 Budget
 ERIC, Summer School: Unfulfilled Promise.
 Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Summer School Effects in a Randomized Field Trial
 Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Longitudinal Achievement Effects of Multiyear Summer School: Evidence From the Teach Baltimore Randomized Field Trial
 RAND, Learning from Summer Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth
 The Morning Call, Why Aren’t American Teens Working Anymore?
 Washington Post, America’s Elite Universities
 Miami Dade Public Schools, Summer Learning Loss: Why Its Effect Is Strongest Among Low-Income Students and How It Can Be Combated
 EdTech, How K–12 Schools are Doing Summer School Virtually
 Hechinger Report, Every Student Needs Summer School This Year to Combat Coronavirus Learning Loss