The history of summer school as a place for students who have fallen behind is nearly as old as the concept of a summer break: An educational innovation with roots in the 19th century school reform movement.
And yet until recently, there wasn’t much research on the effectiveness of summer programs.
That has begun to change, thanks in part to a comprehensive research effort sponsored by the Wallace Foundation, called “Making Summer Count.”
The good news is that, indeed, effective summer programs do have measurable outcomes on future student performance. The bad news is that there are still lots of students who are assigned to summer school, but who return to school in the fall having earned no additional credit.
In many ways, these students are further behind than they were before starting summer school — still lacking original credits, but now also discouraged by the loss of a vacation and yet another academic failure.
These students are at intense risk for giving up. That’s why, at the start of the school year, they should be first in line for additional interventions, wrap-around support and alternative pathways.