Storybook summers depict kids swimming, biking and climbing trees with friends, but how does this fit into the topic of summer learning loss and the opportunity gap?
Creating meaningful and productive summer months for youth does not automatically equate to the traditional summer school model with kids confined to classrooms. This episode’s discussion with Rachel Gwaltney, director of policy and partnerships for the National Summer Learning Association highlights how schools can plan for flexible and engaging summer learning options that can not only help lessen achievement gap issues, but also reduce the stigma affiliated with summer school.
Skip to: 01:07 What is summer learning loss and how does it relate to the achievement gap?

Summer learning loss is what happens to all children who don’t have access to stimulating and enriching activities during the summer months.

Skip to: 02:14 What are some of the detrimental outcomes for students, from spending summers without learning?

Skip to: 03:49 How does the data convey to us?

Skip to: 05:50 Do socioeconomic factors play a role in the data?

Skip to: 07:15 How does a balanced summer look in an ideal world?

Summer offers an opportunity to learn in ways that you just cannot do during the school year or in a school-based environment.

Skip to: 12:07 If a district is looking to launch a program, what are some challenges they might face?

Planning for the next summer starts immediately when the summer ends.

Skip to: 14:10 Is there a stigma involved in summer learning programs and how can that be mitigated?

Skip to: 16:50 Is it important for schools to connect with their legislators to express the needs of their community as it pertains to summer programming?

Rachel Gwaltney, Director of Policy & Partnerships at NSLA

As Director of Policy & Partnerships at NSLA, Rachel Gwaltney leads the research, development, and implementation of services, resources, and partnerships that improve and sustain policy conditions for summer learning. This includes educating and mobilizing the national network of summer learning advocates to make the case for summer to policymakers. Rachel also oversees NSLA’s efforts to grow and promote the research on summer gaps, opportunities, and best practices.
Prior to joining NSLA in 2015, Rachel held roles at District of Columbia Public Schools, Data Quality Campaign, and Horizons National. She previously served as Chief of Programs for Higher Achievement, leading expansion, program quality, evaluation, advocacy, curriculum, and training efforts.
Rachel holds a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree from Northwestern University. She completed the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) at IEL in 2012.

For more information about the National Summer Learning Association, visit: