Strong summer programming can narrow the achievement gap in reading. To be effective, summer programs must include rigorous instruction that aligns to the science of reading, teachers who are literacy experts and engaging activities for students that keep them interested every day. However, too often, even the best programs are unable to yield their intended results because of a lack of attendance throughout the program. Therefore, districts must bolster their enrollment and recruitment efforts to increase student attendance.
This toolkit is designed to help districts attract and enroll students in summer programming who are struggling to read and maximize the benefits of the programming through strong attendance rates all summer long.
A key component to a successful summer program is reducing the stigma of summer, by redesigning the program to have the appeal of summer camp. Districts should consider how they can transform the school building from its school year appearance into a more engaging and exciting learning environment for students through cost-effective strategies and how they can lengthen the hours and weeks of camp to more closely mirror the length of other summer camps.
Recruiting for summer programming early is crucial for increasing enrollment. Too often districts wait too long to recruit students and parents have already made summer arrangements for their child. Districts need to start recruiting earlier and marketing better—through videos—to show parents what the summer programming looks like and get students excited to attend.
To build student enthusiasm for attendance and engagement, districts should create an incentive system for students that allows students to work toward an item(s) they want that reflects the effort they put into their summer learning. Incenting students on attending regularly will increase their daily attendance rate, and in turn, help them master more skills over the summer.