The Best Place to Start When Planning Summer Programs 

Summer programs offer a unique opportunity to move the needle on student achievement, and mindful planning is the best way to ensure your program is well organized and has the intended effect on student achievement. Read on to learn more about a solid starting point for planning an impactful summer program.

State or District Requirements

States and school districts often have strict regulations about which skills should be remediated in summer programs or which students should be invited to attend. Starting with the requirements to see what must be offered is a great step in molding a summer program, as it can set the tone for the rest of the planning process.

There are many aspects of planning to consider for summer programs that may have guidance from the state, so before you pour time into determining staffing, student ratios, or curriculum, check in to see what support or guardrails are provided. Since states determine funding use and allocation, you will want to use their parameters to guide your planning. Additionally, these requirements frequently outline additional resources that may be helpful in your planning, such as technology offered for summer program use, staff allocation details, schedules, and information about on-campus summer meals.

Once you’ve reviewed the requirements, it could be helpful to connect with other leaders who are working on planning similar programs to share ideas, offer solutions to common challenges, or brainstorm ways to keep students engaged.

Student Performance Data

While summer programs often have strict requirements about which students should participate, the mastery of specific skills can drastically differ across schools, grades, and individual students. This variation underscores the value of reviewing performance data for participating students to narrow the focus of summer programs and inform student groupings. Whether a program focuses on all subjects or serves as a “bootcamp” targeting one high-need subject like reading or math, it’s important to gauge student performance across specific standards to bridge the learning gaps for all attending students.

Reviewing achievement data can also guide discussions with teachers about what curriculum resources will be needed or which existing resources will be helpful during summer instruction. If a large group of students need remediation on the same skill, it may be worth considering what new resources could be brought in to supplement existing content. On the other hand, if there are a wide variety of needs, it may call for resources that can help teachers offer more flexible, personalized learning or support small group instruction.

Summer will be here soon, and it is important to consider how to use the summer for productive student learning. Balancing program requirements with the specific needs of participating students will help ensure that your program makes the greatest possible impact.

Check out more resources to get your summer program ready for launch!