Evidence-Based Strategies

Community-based providers of afterschool and summer enrichment programs can help schools achieve learning recovery goals and support acceleration of learning. Decades of research show that programs are uniquely positioned to help meet the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students, and have strong reach in the communities where schools may be struggling to re-build connections with students.

Evidence-Based Practices for Quality Afterschool & Summer  

Evidence of Impact

  • Fact Sheet: Expanding Learning and Supports For All Students Afterschool and Summer Programs Are Essential for Equitable Recovery summarizes the way that afterschool and summer programs accelerate learning with unique academic, social and emotional supports.  
  • Research Brief: The evidence base for afterschool and summer synthesizes findings from nearly two dozen evaluations of afterschool and summer programs that demonstrate the evidence of the positive impact programs have on academics, social and emotional skills and competencies, and overall well-being to help students re-engage in learning and emerge from the pandemic strong, resilient, and hopeful.
  • Research Brief: Outcomes from 21st Century Community Learning Centers summarizes the academic and social and emotional benefits of participation in 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool and summer programs, drawn from state evaluations of the programs. 21st CCLC grants are administered by state education agencies and funded by the federal government.
  • Every Summer Counts: A Longitudinal Analysis of Outcomes from the National Summer Learning Project – In a five-year study conducted by RAND following close to 6,000 students in five school districts in Boston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Rochester, and Duval County, Florida, researchers found positive academic gains among randomly assigned program participants compared to the control group. Students who attended summer learning programs for two consecutive summers outperformed control group students in math, language arts, and social and emotional skills.
  • Investing in Successful Summer Programs: A Review of Evidence Under the Every Student Succeeds Act – In this review, RAND highlights 43 summer programs that meet the criteria for the Every Student Succeeds Act's three tiers of evidence—strong, moderate, and promising evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of a program. For example, the report describes Higher Achievement Summer Academy, a six-week, school-based summer program for underserved students that includes academic instruction, electives such as sculpture and martial arts, and weekly field trips. A randomized control trial found that students in the program reported a greater enjoyment of learning and higher likelihood of wanting to attend a competitive high school than their non-participating peers.