Extended Summer Enrichment Programs Most Effective, Cost-Efficient

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on

Part III of Pioneer Institute study series cites three approaches

BOSTON – Massachusetts schools establishing summer enrichment programs to close the achievement gap between lower-income and higher-income students can have a greater impact by eventually expanding the program across multiple summers or for a full year, according to the last of a three-part series by Pioneer Institute on summer learning.

The final paper, Expanding Educational Opportunities: Three Models for Extended Summer Enrichment Programs in Massachusetts, introduces three types of extended summer enrichment models: 12-month programs, multi-year summer-only programs, and multi-year, year-round programs. Many of the top schools interviewed as part of the project found it beneficial to extend their relationship with students into the school year utilizing one of those approaches.

“This series shows summer enrichment programs to be an effective way to combat summer learning loss, which disproportionately impacts disadvantaged students,” said Jim Stergios, executive director of Pioneer Institute. “Private school summer programs also raise academic expectations.  Students come out with campus experiences that acclimate them for college life and success.”

As the 2017 summer sessions are about to begin, this study is a comprehensive guide to many types of summer learning programs, with particular attention on those serving underprivileged students.

The new study establishes that while extended programs may require more time and resources than single-summer plans, they need not be more costly. Typically, private schools operating single-summer day programs charge $5,000 or more per student for a five-week session, according to the Pioneer report. But there are schools operating 12-month extended programs, multi-summer programs, and multi-year, year-round programs for less than $2,300 per student that are used as models in the paper.

Part I of the series described what the U.S. Department of Education calls the “devastating” impact of summer learning loss and included the results of a survey of more than 70 Massachusetts private and parochial schools. It found that most offer academically-oriented summer programs, and discussed the most common courses offered and grade levels served.

Part II focused on best practices of schools across the country that offer summer enrichment courses. Program directors discussed the history of their programs, funding, tuition levels, and financial aid, as well as student profiles, facilities, and other aspects of their work.

Part III introduces three types of extended summer learning and encourages private schools to do more for low-income and minority students in their community and beyond. The research is meant to empower administrators, schools, and organizations that wish to launch a summer enrichment program or support mission-driven programs with the information needed to ensure high quality and cost efficiency.

Report authors Lauren Corvese and Ken Ardon included other recommendations in Part III, such as:

  • A suggestion that summer programs take advantage of partnerships with organizations that assist with recruitment and funding. These relationships help sustain a program and add a level of legitimacy, stability, and advocacy that schools may be unable to establish on their own.
  • A call for programs to try to expand their duration and enrollment. To advance their learning and develop good habits, underserved students need consistent supplementary education over multiple years, rather than a few weeks during one summer.
  • Urging schools to continually attempt to magnify their reach by serving additional grade levels or increasing the number of spots available at existing levels. According to the report, adding five students per grade every year over five years would cost between $190,000 and $1.44 million in additional funds, depending on the type of program and number of grades served.

The report notes that while there are a few possible steps forward, including expanding existing partnerships with organizations like Horizons National or fundraising and directing more money toward schools looking to start programs, there is a real opportunity for new non-profits to support Massachusetts schools with summer enrichment programs serving disadvantaged students. While organizations such as Steppingstone Academy, Boston Beyond, Minds Matter, and Horizons National are at work in the commonwealth, there are still many minority and low-income Bay State students in need of quality academic support.

According to Massachusetts’ results on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress, the achievement gap is wide throughout the state. With partnerships and fundraising being such a critical part of operating a mission-focused summer enrichment program, support from a non-profit dedicated to these efforts would be invaluable.


Lauren Corvese is Pioneer Institute’s Research Assistant and Development Coordinator. She joined Pioneer in 2015 as a co-op student, writing on education, healthcare, and transportation policy in Massachusetts. Lauren recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Northeastern University, where she graduated summa cum laude.

Ken Ardon received a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1999, where he co-authored a book on school spending and student achievement. He taught economics at Pomona College before moving to Massachusetts, and from 2000 to 2004, Dr. Ardon worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. He is a professor of economics at Salem State University, where he has taught since 2004. Dr. Ardon is a member of Pioneer Institute’s Center for School Reform Advisory Board.

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.

Get Updates on Our School Choice Research

Related Posts

Part I: Survey: Majority of MA Independent Schools Offer Academically Oriented Summer Programs

Part II: Study Highlights Best Practices In Summer Enrichment Programs

Study Urges Massachusetts to Embrace Innovative School Models

A new policy brief from Pioneer Institute urges Massachusetts policymakers to encourage the proliferation and progress of non-traditional models that offer families creative, flexible, personalized and low-cost private education options.

Two Stars in a Glowing Voc-Tech Education System

“A Tale of Two City Schools: Worcester Tech and Putnam Academy Become Models for Recovery” is a new white paper by Pioneer Institute that analyzes how Worcester Tech and Putnam Academy — schools with high numbers of low-income and special needs students — leapt from the bottom of Massachusetts voc-tech rankings to become leaders among local schools.

Book Finds Massachusetts Voc-Tech Schools Are National Model, Calls for Expansion

Massachusetts vocational-technical schools -- boasting minuscule dropout rates, strong academic performance, and graduates prepared for careers or higher education -- should be expanded to meet growing demand, according to a new book published by Pioneer Institute.

Study Finds Continued Growth in Education Tax-Credit Scholarship Programs

Education tax credits grew increasingly popular in 2021, with four more states enacting programs.  There are now 28 tax-credit scholarship (TCS) programs in 23 states, and they serve more than 325,000 students, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Study Finds Massachusetts Would Benefit from Adopting Education Savings Accounts

Massachusetts provides fewer options for students to be educated outside their assigned school districts than most other states do, and educational savings accounts (ESAs) offer an effective tool for giving students additional opportunities, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Virtual Learning Grows During COVID

Virtual learning in K-12 education continues to grow due to the health threat caused by coronavirus variants and the assistance this learning model can provide to at-risk students, according to two papers released today by Pioneer Institute.

Pioneer Institute Files Amicus Curiae Brief in U.S. Supreme Court School Choice Case

Pioneer Institute has filed an amicus curiae brief in Carson v. Makin urging the Supreme Court of the United States to strike down a provision of Maine law. The Court will hear oral arguments in Carson this morning (December 8) at 10 am. The Maine law being challenged allows districts that don’t have their own schools to contract with a school or pay for students that choose to attend public or private schools, but explicitly excludes religious schools.

Study: After Years of Steady Increases, Homeschooling Enrollment Rose Dramatically During COVID

After steadily increasing for years, the number of parents choosing to homeschool their children skyrocketed during the pandemic, and policy makers should do more to acknowledge homeschooling as a viable option, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Study: Systemic Failure in IDEA Implementation for Private School Students with Disabilities in Additional States

On the heels of a $3.8 million settlement for private school students with disabilities in Massachusetts for the state’s failure to comply with provisions of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that require provision of equitable, publicly funded special education services to students in private schools, a Pioneer Institute study finds that two states and three school districts around the country for which data are available also appear to be out of compliance.

Key Madison Park Program Lags Other State Voc-Techs, but Shows Signs of Improvement

The co-operative education program at Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, which places students in paid positions with local employers, lags far behind other Massachusetts vocational-technical schools in terms of both placements and number of employer contacts.  But with the school as a whole beginning to improve after years of turmoil, the co-op is also showing promising signs, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

New Book Offers Roadmap to Sustainability for Massachusetts Catholic Schools

Catholic schools in Massachusetts must focus on the characteristics that make them academically successful and distinguish them from traditional public schools, but must also seek new models and governance structures that will help them achieve financial sustainability, according to a new book published by Pioneer Institute. The book, "A Vision of Hope: Catholic Schooling in Massachusetts," will be the topic of a webinar co-sponsored by Pioneer and the Catholic Schools Foundation to be held on Wednesday, January 27 at 2:00 pm. 

New Study Provides Toolkit for Crafting Education Tax-Credit Scholarship Programs

In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key impediment to private school choice, Pioneer Institute has published a toolkit for designing tax-credit scholarship programs. Now available in 18 states, nearly 300,000 students nationwide use tax-credit scholarships to attend the school of their family’s choice. TCS policies create an incentive for taxpayers to contribute to nonprofit scholarship organizations that aid families with tuition and, in some states, other K–12 educational expenses. This paper explores the central design features of TCS policies—such as eligibility, the tax credit value, credit caps, and academic accountability provisions—and outlines the different approaches taken by the TCS policies in each state.

Study: Signs of Progress at Madison Park, but Still a Long Way to Go

Four years after it began to implement a turnaround plan, Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School is showing clear signs of progress, but its performance continues to lag behind that of other vocational-technical schools in Massachusetts, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute.

Public Statement: Pioneer Institute Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Espinoza School Choice Case

Pioneer Institute applauds today’s U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down a bigoted state constitutional amendment in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Like Massachusetts, Montana is among nearly 40 states with so-called anti-aid amendments, which have roots in 19th century anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant discrimination.

Pioneer Alert: Supreme Court Will Rule on Highly Significant School Choice Case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) announced that it would…

Study Finds Student Growth Percentile Is Unreliable, Limits Access to Charter Public Schools

High degree of error, especially in small school districts, leads…

Pioneer Public Statement on Legislative Demise of New Bedford Charter School Deal

This past week, in a display of the state’s teacher unions'…