Summer Learning Loss Literature Review

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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the K-12 education system in the United States continues to experience an unprecedented wave of school closures in terms of the number of students and school days affected. At present, 17 state mandate or recommend that schools close for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, and an additional three states intend to keep schools closed indefinitely. Even if other states reopen schools prior to the end of the current school year, districts face the difficult task of planning curriculum and instruction for 2020-21 while still uncertain as to the amount of learning loss students suffered.

The extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means that no direct analogue exists to which districts may look for guidance. However, districts may benefit from studying other contexts in which students experience considerable out-of-school time, such as summer vacations.

To support districts’ academic planning efforts, Hanover reviewed recent literature that examines:

  • Whether summer learning loss occurs and, if so, how the effects differ across subject areas, grade levels, and subgroups
  • Whether summer programs/interventions effectively mitigate such effects and improve student achievement

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