Schools and districts across the country are wrapping up this year’s summer learning programs to recover and accelerate learning and are getting ready or are already to go “back-to-school.” Educators and administrators did yeoman’s work to launch summer programs and develop/expand community partnerships, all under constantly changing health and safety conditions. There are many lessons learned that could be applied to this school year to expand learning and plan for next summer using the influx of federal funding.
Educators have the opportunity to step back, reflect, and determine how to make their programs even better. We also have the opportunity to ramp up the procurement processes for how districts contract with external vendors for summer programming (see more in Promising Procurement Practices to Maximize Learning Recovery).
We encourage educators, administrators, and partnering organizations to take some time over the next few months to reflect – What went well? What didn’t? What do we need to change next year to do this work better? A new brief from the National Comprehensive Center, After Action Reviews for Summer Learning Programs: Identifying Lessons Learned to Accelerate Learning, walks practitioners through the steps of completing an After Action Review (AAR) and provides questions to ask during an AAR at the state, district, school, and partner/external vendor levels. The focus questions assist participants in examining a number of areas, including: policy, finance, infrastructure/capital, partnerships, staffing, services/programs, and monitoring/evaluation. The brief also includes a template to record successes, missteps, and implications for current planning and continuous improvement. As this summer fades and we welcome fall and students back in classroom, now is the time to identify lessons learned over the past months and apply them to making learning recovery and acceleration even stronger throughout the year and next summer.
Want to see what an AAR on summer learning looks like? Check out a mini-AAR that the National Comprehensive Center team did with Norwalk Public Schools (Norwalk, CT) and their external enrichment partners for the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative.