Since 2011, the Raikes Foundation in collaboration with School’s Out Washington (SOWA) has worked to improve the quality of out-of-school time programs serving youth in Washington state. During this time, we’ve partnered with organizations to establish a clear, measurable definition of quality, a continuous improvement process to help programs achieve quality, and professional development opportunities to empower front-line staff interacting with youth. More recently, the tools have been adapted to meet the specific needs of summer learning OST programs. In Washington, communities are already making deep investments in summer learning to improve academic outcomes, and we hope even more summer programs will work to strengthen their quality in the future.
To better-understand this connection between quality summer programs and academic outcomes, we recently partnered with Seattle Public Schools (SPS), the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality, and SOWA to conduct a study of SPS’s summer programs. The study was conducted in 30 summer learning programs at 11 schools in Seattle during summer 2015 program. Results (available for download here) showed a clear link between the quality of summer learning programs and the academic outcomes they produce. This is one of the first studies of its kind and demonstrates several important findings:
Given the promising results of this initial study, it is likely that we will deepen our learning this coming summer by using a control group to examine growth in matched peers as well as dig in more deeply to document the specific practices that high quality programs are using to support positive outcomes.