Make Summer Learning a Funding Priority

As you plan your summer school curriculum, now is the time to make the case for Title I funds your district can allocate to summer school programming. Title I, Part A, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides financial assistance to schools with high numbers of children from low-income families to help provide the academic support students need to meet state academic standards.

Summer school programs afford districts the critical opportunity to raise academic outcomes for low-achieving students. Summer learning programs that are well planned and targeted to students' needs can be key to preventing learning loss over the summer, particularly among students from economically disadvantaged households.

According to the RAND report Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning, "Rigorous studies have shown that strong summer programs can achieve several important goals: reverse summer learning loss, achieve learning gains, and give low-performing students the chance to master material that they did not learn during the previous school year."

So how do those tasked with heading up a summer learning program ensure that existing funds from Title I are earmarked for summer learning resources, and that the budget is prioritized to gain the most from those funds with the highest-quality instructional materials?

Make a Case for Summer Learning

Present a plan that outlines the specific objectives and goals of your summer program with a focus on how the program will be effective in:

  • A) Keeping students on a learning trajectory. Building essential math and reading skills will help students start the next school year off strong.
  • B) Providing critical intervention. Summer is the opportune time for targeting those areas where students need to make quick gains.
  • C) Reinforcing your school curriculum. Providing additional instruction with a focus on rigorous skills gives students the opportunity for the extra practice they need to master those skills.

Focus Funds On Resources That Best Meet Student Needs

Determining the primary instructional needs of the students who will be attending summer school is important in order to prioritize your budget on programs and supplemental resources that will best support learning gains and align with your school curriculum. Look for high-quality programs specifically designed for summer school with proven efficacy, targeted intervention, opportunities for individualized instruction, and lesson plans that allow for flexible pacing. And remember to include budget for consumable components.

Collect Outcomes Data to Secure Future Funding

Title I funds can be used for a variety of programs, so summer school programs may compete with other uses for those dollars in a district. Collecting outcomes data is important in making the case for your future summer school programs. Explain how you plan to measure and share achievement gains. Demonstrating the program's effectiveness, how it successfully supports your school's goals, and how it meets the goals of the grant provider, will help you advocate for funding dollars in the future.

For more information on funding to support summer school initiatives, see HMH's Summer School Funding Quick Guide.