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July 1, 2024
ASCD Blog

Reimagining Summer Learning

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In this exclusive ASCD Podcast excerpt, Allison Crean Davis unpacks how innovative summer programs can boost student learning and enrichment opportunities.
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Portrait of podcast interviewee Allison Crean Davis in front of ASCD apply logo against a dark grey background
Summer learning has gained new importance and taken on innovative forms since the pandemic, becoming a vital component of education. Allison Crean Davis, vice president for education studies at Westat and director of the National Summer Learning and Enrichment Study funded by the Wallace Foundation, highlights how well-designed summer programs can enhance learning and provide crucial enrichment opportunities for students. In a recent episode of the ASCD Podcast, she delves into how summer programs have evolved, their impact on equity, and essential steps to ensure their effectiveness. 

Based on your research, how can school leaders be thinking about summer learning as part of their overall academic programming and school improvement planning? 

It's important for school leaders to think of summer as not optional but really essential. An essential component in their academic year, an essential opportunity to learn that can be tailored in different ways to the needs of their students. 
And there are so many different kinds of summer programs. Some of them are helping kids accelerate their learning and get caught up with some of their peers, and some of them are more enrichment-oriented. Some of them are focused on students who are advanced and need additional stimulation. 
There are a number of ways that these programs can be tailored within a district and within schools for different populations of students. So, I would say continue to innovate during summer and use it as a time and a space to target and tailor learning opportunities—to engage with partners that, frankly, may also be great partners during the full academic year. 
Innovate, find new ways of working, and think about finding some continuity with the academic year. Let the academic year and the curriculum inform and have some continuity for students and what they need to learn in the summer. And let some of that innovation that can happen in the space of five or six weeks during the summer inform what might be innovative during the academic year. 
Listen to the full episode:

Jessica Comola is an editor with Educational Leadership magazine.

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