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The future of summer school

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Summer school emerged last year as an “anchor” of student recovery after two-plus years of interrupted learning due to the pandemic.

Why it matters: Schools are now reimagining how to continue to capitalize on the summer months — and experts say enrichment programs and other offerings may become a “permanent part of the landscape.”

“I don’t view this as a stopgap,” Dennis Roche, the president of school tracking site Burbio, told Axios.

The big picture: Summer school programs increased last summer, but they were largely focused on recovery efforts for kids who had fallen behind, Roche said.

Those same programs are being offered this year, but accelerated and enrichment programs and a mix of online and in-person offerings have also been added, Burbio found.”The overwhelming majority of schools have this giant hole in the summer,” Roche said. “We always saw doing more during the summer [is] … a big way to get at this, so I think it’s going to be an anchor going forward.”

Zoom in: Miami-Dade County Public Schools, for instance, has partnered with community organizations to expand the district’s summer offerings, according to Julie Roche, co-founder of Burbio.

Seattle Public Schools is offering a range of in-person and online programs, including skills courses for high school students.

Plus, there’s been a boom in tutoring programs being offered in districts nationwide.

Freeport School District in Illinois is offering gift cards to students who participate in the district’s “summer learning at-home” program.

Lyons School District 103 in Illinois is providing a “summer engagement coach” to families “to help with questions, platforms and motivation.” “One of the reasons in the past that summer school wasn’t real popular is kids needed a break,” Julie Roache said.”So now in order to keep them in school, they’re realizing they have to offer them some interesting things.”

What to watch: “This is going to be a multi-summer trend, where you’re going see essentially the expansion of the school year.” Dennis Roche said.

“Not in the same way that it’s required with the academic year, but you’re going to see this kind of bulked up,” he added. “Recovery and reengagement is the floor … but there’s also some upside here for innovation down the road.”

Go deeper… There’s a frenzy for summer school, but it may not be enough