A recent meta-analysis by Lynch and colleagues provides fresh insight on contemporary research focused on the effects of summer programs for mathematics. The authors noted that studies cited in previous meta-analyses of the effects of summer programs on mathematics achievement are now approximately 20 years old, and thus a new meta-analysis on the topic was warranted. The authors used data from 37 studies to analyze the effects of summer programs on mathematics achievement, the characteristics of summer programs which moderate their effectiveness, and the relationship between summer learning programs and noncognitive outcomes. The primary finding of the meta-analysis was shown below.
- Summer programs demonstrated an overall positive effect (ES = +0.10) on all mathematics outcomes
- A positive effect (ES = +0.10) also found on standardized mathematics test scores.
- For context, this is equivalent to approximately a 4 percentile point difference on a standardized test.
Delving more into the details of these summer programs, the analysis found that:
- Average effect sizes were larger for programs focused specifically on mathematics than for those with a more general academic focus.
- Programs focused on work from textbooks were less effective than those that did not incorporate textbook work.
- Moreover, students who participated in summer programs performed better in noncognitive skills, but only eight studies in the analysis included these noncognitive measures.
This meta-analysis provides a better understanding of the impacts of summer school in the context of more recent schooling experiences and provides a much-needed update to the literature. Despite demonstrating that certain aspects of summer school were more effective than others, the authors pointed out that programs with less effective elements (e.g., textbooks) were still more effective than the absence of summer programs. The authors connected these findings to the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that summer programs may be a valuable tool in helping students catch up on material missed during school closures.
Source: Lynch, K., An, L., & Mancenido, Z. (2022). The impact of summer programs on student mathematics achievement: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 00346543221105543. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543221105543