Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty
How do boards evaluate the effectiveness of summer learning programs?
Little girl holding a butterfly while looking at it with a magnifying glass
Even before a worldwide pandemic upended lives and reshaped many of our expectations, committed and caring school board members were already turning sharp focus toward ensuring students benefit from effective summer learning programs. School leaders concerned about the “summer slide,” where student achievement data reflects a loss of learning between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next, implemented summer programs to bridge gap.

It’s commendable that many boards and their administrative partners realize that just offering summer learning programs is not enough to ensure desired positive outcomes for children. It is an important aspect of good governance to also understand and evaluate whether those programs are actually serving students well.

Things to consider when evaluating summer learning programs:

  • Are the programs combining academics, enrichment and some form of physical recreation?
  • What measurements are in place to gauge positive progress in academic areas and in enhancing social and emotional development?
  • How can summer learning programs effectively leverage resources from the community, not merely relying on school staff?
  • How have teachers with specific interest in summer programs been integrally involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of the program?
  • What “success stories” are generated by summer learning programs that can be promoted to stakeholders throughout the school community?
  • How can staff ensure that students can be “summer ready,” so that engagement in organized programs as well as in at-home summer reading and other learning activities will provide them the most benefits?
  • In what ways does the governance team review and reach consensus on making funding decisions to support summer learning programs?

A sound governance approach to evaluating summer learning initiatives can help reinforce efforts by districts and county offices of education as they commit to addressing and combating summer slide. Our students deserve nothing less. More resources are available at:

Summer learning programs are a key strategy for learning recovery within the pandemic context. For more information and resources, view the webinar “School’s in for Summer: Strategies for Successful Summer Programs and Beyond” on CSBA’s YouTube channel at