Jun 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Summer school could become the norm for students

Illustration of a pattern for backpacks.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Summer school emerged last year as an "anchor" of student recovery after two-plus years of interrupted learning due to the pandemic.

Why it matters: Schools are now reimagining how to continue to capitalize on the summer months — and experts say enrichment programs and other offerings may become a "permanent part of the landscape."

  • "I don't view this as a stopgap," Dennis Roche, the president of school tracking site Burbio, told Axios.

The big picture: Summer school programs increased last summer, but they were largely focused on recovery efforts for kids who had fallen behind, Roche said.

  • Those same programs are being offered this year, but accelerated and enrichment programs and a mix of online and in-person offerings have also been added, Burbio found.
  • "The overwhelming majority of schools have this giant hole in the summer," Roche said.
  • "We always saw doing more during the summer [is] ... a big way to get at this, so I think it's going to be an anchor going forward."

Zoom in: Miami-Dade County Public Schools, for instance, has partnered with community organizations to expand the district's summer offerings, according to Julie Roche, co-founder of Burbio.

  • Seattle Public Schools is offering a range of in-person and online programs, including skills courses for high school students.

Plus, there's been a boom in tutoring programs being offered in districts nationwide.

Freeport School District in Illinois is offering gift cards to students who participate in the district's "summer learning at-home" program.

  • Lyons School District 103 in Illinois is providing a "summer engagement coach" to families "to help with questions, platforms and motivation."
  • "One of the reasons in the past that summer school wasn't real popular is kids needed a break," Julie Roache said.
  • "So now in order to keep them in school, they're realizing they have to offer them some interesting things."

What to watch: "This is going to be a multi-summer trend, where you're going see essentially the expansion of the school year." Dennis Roche said.

  • "Not in the same way that it's required with the academic year, but you're going to see this kind of bulked up," he added.
  • "Recovery and reengagement is the floor ... but there's also some upside here for innovation down the road."

Go deeper ... There's a frenzy for summer school, but it may not be enough

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