GIVE A SUMMER FOR SCHOOL D
Analysis of the summer participation, future
summer plans, and barriers to summer
programs for a Boston area public middle
school’s students (grades 6 – 8) and areas for
Prepared by Give a Summer
Background on report
• This is the public version of a report prepared by Give a Summer for a Boston area
public middle school analyzing the summer participation, future plans, and barriers
facing their middle school students.
• With the school’s approval, Give a Summer is releasing a public version of the report
as an example for how a community might ask and begin to answer these questions.
• Give a Summer believes that getting communities to collect data about where and why
kids miss out on summer programs will:
• improve youth access to summer programs by identifying high-need areas and
barriers to summer program participation
• As Give a Summer believes this report shows, figuring out which barriers matter and where
are the best opportunities to expand summer access is not obvious beforehand, and as Give
a Summer believes future investigations will show, those answers vary significantly across
• strengthen advocacy efforts by clarifying the need for opportunities
• increase public accountability for improvement
Outline of presentation
• Executive Summary
• Findings: Previous summer participation
• Findings: Previous summer enjoyment
• Findings: Upcoming summer plans
• Findings: Barriers to summer participation
• Areas for action
• Areas for investigation
Executive summary: key facts
Past attendance: 60% of all students attended a summer program last summer, with
participation dropping from 70% for 7th graders to 50% for 8th graders.
Satisfaction: Kids enjoy their programs: 75% said they enjoy or somewhat enjoy their
programs, which holds true across grades.
• 70% of 8th graders fully agreed that they enjoyed their program, though only 20% of 7th
graders said the same.
Future plans: 25% of students want to attend a summer program next year, with another 40%
unsure. 8th graders stand out for the most interest, with 7th graders reporting the least.
Barriers: The three biggest barriers to summer participation are i) family vacation conflicts, ii)
lack of interest in summer programs, iii) and disinterest in available program options.
• The barriers are greatest for 6th graders and lowest for 8th graders.
Neighborhood differences: [Give a Summer removed commentary on neighborhood
variation in summer program participation, interest, and barriers to preserve the
confidentiality of its school partner]
Executive summary: key takeaways
Good work: Summer program participation is fairly high compared to Boston-area and MA averages.
But students need support from schools and parents: More students participated in programs last
year than said they want to participate in a program this summer, suggesting strong and necessary
parental, school, and community support to help students get excited about and attend programs.
Fight the 7th grade slump: Attendance falls from 70% to 50% from the summer before 7th grade to
the summer after 7th grade.
Highlight programs that are low cost or have flexible schedules to accommodate family
vacation plans: In addition to lack of student interest, these were the biggest barriers to participation.
Given the key role of parents to eventual program participation, include them in this outreach.
Personalize support to students with one or two ‘killer’ barriers. 35 students are unsure about
attending a program but have only one or two obstacles that are a big deal. Outreach to these
students could be particularly effective to help them find programs that avoid ‘killer’ obstacles.
Use student-level data on barriers to effectively connect students (and families) with programs
that match their needs. The accompanying Excel file has student-level data on attendance and
summer program barriers – as well as other information, such as which students have ‘killer’ barriers
– to help effectively and efficiently connect students with summer programs that match their needs.
Executive summary: key questions
How can the school help 7th graders enjoy their upcoming summer programs like 8th graders
• What explains the substantial difference between 7th and 8th graders in their enjoyment of summer
programs? How are the programs they are going to similar or different? Are there any differences in
school support for 6th vs. 7th graders in the spring that helped last year’s 7th graders find programs
they enjoyed more?
• Impact: increase student enjoyment of programs (and increase future program participation)
What are parent perspectives on barriers to summer program participation?
• This question is particularly important given how students’ plans for summer participation are well
behind their actual summer program participation, suggesting that parents and the school play a
large role in supporting eventual program participation.
• Impact: improve efforts to expand summer access by incorporating influential parent perspective
When and for how long do families take vacations?
• Depending on when and for how long families take vacations, there are different ways to best
support summer opportunities for students: highlighting programs in July for families that take
August vacations or recommending week by week programs for families that travel in July.
• Impact: better target communication and suggestions to students’ and families’ needs.
Findings: summer program participation
• About 60% of kids attended a summer program last year, though participation fell
from 70% for 7th graders to 50% for 8th graders.
• No meaningful geographic variation (see appendix for detail).
Did you attend a summer program last summer?
Findings: summer program enjoyment
• Kids enjoy their programs: 75% said they enjoy or somewhat enjoy their
programs, which holds true across grades.
• Substantial variation in the percent of students who fully agreed that they enjoyed
their programs, with only 20% of 7th graders but 70% of 8th graders saying so.
Did you enjoy the program?
Findings: upcoming summer plans
• Only ¼ of students want to attend a program this summer, with 1/3 not sure yet.
• Planned attendance was lowest for 7th graders. This is consistent with their lower
satisfaction with last year’s summer programs. 7th grade plans for this coming
summer are significantly lower than the 70% attendance for those students last year.
Do you want to attend a summer program this coming summer?
Findings: upcoming summer plans vs. previous participation
• Students’ reported interest in attending summer programs lags behind their attendance
in programs last summer. See examples below for 6th and 7th graders.
• This reveals a key role for parents and the school to help students get excited about
and attend programs (that students then largely enjoy – see slide 7).
Findings: description of different barriers
• Students were asked to rate how important various potential barriers were to
participating in summer programs.
• Below, the text of those barriers is presented and barriers are grouped into
• Students rated barriers as a “Big deal”, “Small deal”, or “Does not apply”
• Those descriptions were converted to scores: “Big deal” is a 2, “Small deal” is
1, “Does not apply” is 0
Findings: barriers to summer participation
• “Conflict with family vacation” was the largest barrier to summer program
participation, with lack of interest and lack of excitement about summer options
• Expense of programs, transportation, and childcare responsibilities at home
were also sizable barriers.
• The impact of each barrier is lowest on 8th graders, highest on 6th graders (see
Findings: barriers to summer participation based on
• By and large, students rated barriers the same regardless of whether they attended a
program last year or not. This is true across grades (see appendix) & neighborhoods.
• Exception is “Went but didn’t like it,” but that naturally applies more to students who attended.
• That finding suggests other factors – such as parent support – are the decisive factors in
program participation. This is consistent with previous student participation in programs
outpacing students’ plans to participate in summer programs (see slide 10).
• Still, differences in student enthusiasm and interest in programs between students who did
and did not attend suggests getting students excited matters some too. See dark green.
Areas for action (1)
• School, parent, and community support is key. Actual program
attendance outpaces student plans for attendance, suggesting
strong and crucial external guidance and support for youth.
• Fight the 7th grade slump. Attendance falls from 70% to 50% from
the summer before 7th grade to the summer after 7th grade. Current
7th graders are a tough audience with the lowest program
• Idea: Learn from 8th graders’ high satisfaction with programs to find
great programs to recommend and for peer encouragement.
• Work around vacation plans: “Conflicts with family vacation” was
the biggest barrier to summer participation, with 30% of kids rating
it “a big deal.”
• Idea: look for and highlight summer programs with flexible schedules
Areas for action (2)
• Personalize support to students with ‘killer’ barriers. 35
students are unsure about attending a program but have only one
or two obstacles that are a big deal.
• Idea: Outreach to these students could be particularly effective to help
them find programs that avoid ‘killer’ obstacles.
• Use student-level data on barriers to effectively connect
students (and families) with programs that match their needs.
The attached Excel file has student-level data on attendance and
summer program barriers – as well as other information, such as
which students have ‘killer’ barriers – to help effectively and
efficiently connect students with summer programs that match their
Areas for investigation
• What are parent perspectives on barriers to summer program
• For example, students don’t rate difficulty signing up for programs as
that big a deal, though teachers often describe this as a big challenge.
What do parents think?
• Why did 8th graders enjoy their programs so much more than
7th graders? Are they going to different programs or getting
different support that helps them find programs they like?
• When and for how long do families take vacations?
• How do students’ plans for summer participation compare to
their actual summer participation?
• Methodology and response rates
• Distribution of barrier ratings
• Barrier ratings by grade
• Barrier ratings by previous attendance and grade
• Findings from student comments
• Survey (example is linked here) is given to all of the school’s middle school
students, with student ID, grade, and classroom prepopulated.
• All responses about previous summer experiences and upcoming experiences
• If a student responds “Does not apply” to all barriers AND does not leave a
comment, their barrier scores (but not their responses about previous summer
experiences or upcoming summer plans) are not counted.
• Rationale: If a student marks “Does not apply” to every barrier and gives no
explanation, then we are not left with anything to go on. It also suggests the
student may not have thoughtfully engaged with the barriers part of the survey.
Appendix: survey response rates
• Survey received a high response rate overall that was consistent across grades.
• A few 6th graders who were supposed to take the survey left the school before
they could complete it.
• Few students’ barriers scores were not counted. The effect of counting their
responses would have just lowered all barrier scores by 10%.
Appendix: distribution of barrier ratings
• “Conflict with family vacation” is notable for having a relatively high percentage
(30% of students) for whom it is a big deal, even relative to other barriers with a
similar average score.
• Suggests “conflict with family vacation” is a promising obstacle to target with
focused outreach to students for whom it is a big deal.
Appendix: barriers by grade
• The impact of each barrier is lowest on 8th graders, highest on 6th
Appendix: barriers by previous attendance and grade
• Consistent story across grades
• Major exception is “Programs don’t interest me” in 8th grade, with students who
attended programs rating that as far less of a barrier than students who did not attend.
• This is consistent with 8th graders lower participation in programs but with a high percentage who
enjoyed the programs they went to. There is perhaps an opportunity in 8th grade to share programs
that students went to last summer with students who didn’t attend one.
Appendix: breakdown of additional student comments
• Student comments reveal diversity of student concerns and
• No additional issue not on survey was strongly raised in comments