School Called Potent
by Shana Helps, Deseret Morning News, March 22, 2004
For more articles like this
A new study by
Brigham Young University suggests that summer school has lasting
effects for younger elementary students.
The study, done by a BYU and a Harvard professor while they were
in graduate school, said struggling third-graders who went to
class in June and July instead of hitting the beach continued to
improve academically for several years after attending summer
Lars Lefgren, now a BYU professor, and Brian Jacob, who teaches
at Harvard, examined a program of Chicago public schools. In the
program, children must reach a benchmark score on academic tests
or they must attend summer school or repeat a grade.
The progress of students who failed the tests and went to summer
school were then compared to students who barely passed the same
test. The results showed that the students who attended summer
school had an advantage over other students.
"There are so many programs in education that don't work, so
sometimes it's nice to find one that does," Lefgren said.
conducted in Chicago in 2000 and 2001, was published in the most
recent issue of "Review of Economics and Statistics."
Utah educators could learn lessons from the Chicago-based study,
"A lot of the kids that administrators are most worried about
are struggling minority kids, more Latino than black in Utah,"
he said. "There are plenty of kids who have the same types of
struggles with learning."
A similar program — called Standards and Benchmarks — has been
started in Provo schools. Students struggling with passing
classes attend summer school, as well as classes before, during
and after school to help them earn necessary credits and improve
"It's just a philosophy we have in our district that, in order
to advance, students have to demonstrate proficiency with the
things that we're learning," said Ray W. Morgan, a Provo school
district official. "It's not just pass the class or we'll flunk
you; it's if you don't pass the class, we want to help you be
In Lefgren and Jacob's study, the sixth-grade Chicago students
did not benefit as much from summer school as third-grade
students, possibly because of the "dumbbell" social stigma
attached to summer school, Lefgren said.
Provo's summer school, directed at older students, is seeing
more participation, said Greg Hudnall, student services
"We have more and more kids taking it every year," he said.
"When we first started, we didn't have that many. Kids are more
motivated to make up their courses."
The research also could lead for extra funding for summer
academic programs, Jacob said.
"We're spending so much money on education and starting new
programs," he said. "It makes no sense to spend money without a
rigorous effort to evaluate what's working and what's not."
back to the top ~
back to Breaking News
~ back to