- Six of eight school districts offering summer school saw improvements in math achievement, according to a recent study tracking a total of 400,000 students’ progress throughout the summer of 2022.
- Reading, however, had fewer gains as only one district saw positive growth in the study released this month by the Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research.
- Even though summer school showed notable signs of a positive impact on student math achievement, the study said those gains “made only a modest dent” in overall recovery from COVID-19-related learning loss.
Though federal COVID relief funding has bolstered summer school supports in recent years, the CALDER study notes that there’s still fairly low participation — at 13% — in these programs.
To get students caught up to pre-pandemic math achievement levels, the study said summer school at its current scale is not enough. Additionally, a July NWEA study found students need 4.5 more months of math instruction and 4.1 additional months of reading to return to pre-pandemic levels.
“An average district would need to send every student to a five-week summer school with two hours of math instruction for at least two to three years in a row to get back to pre-COVID math achievement levels,” the CALDER study said.
The spending deadline for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief is only one year away, and unless school leaders find alternative funding sources, some expect even fewer summer school offerings moving forward.
The study notes that states and districts will need to continue investing in myriad strategies to combat learning loss once ESSER funds are no longer available. Otherwise, the study said, “students will pay the price.”
Other ways districts can layer these COVID recovery approaches include high-dosage tutoring, “double dose math courses,” longer school days or years, and evidence-based retention programs, the study advised.
Evidence still suggests these summer school investments are, in fact, paying off in math achievement.
The CALDER findings back up previous research that math-focused summer programs can improve students’ test scores on standardized math tests. Tailoring summer school to math can also lead to higher math grades compared to other students, according to a 2022 study published by the American Educational Research Association.