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How Can Teachers Make the Most of Professional Learning in the Summer?

Elizabeth D. Steiner, Laura Stelitano, Andy Bogart, Sophie Meyers, RAND |

One way that schools and districts can maximize teacher learning is through academic summer programs for students that also offer PL opportunities for teachers. Yet, to date, little is known about how summer can best help teachers improve their school-year classroom practices.

Do teachers already use the summer months to take part in PL? Do teachers find summer PL helpful for their work in the classroom during the regular school year? Can teaching students during a summer program provide unique opportunities for PL?

Researchers from the RAND Corporation conducted a multipart study to address these questions.

First, the team sought to understand the extent of teachers’ participation in summer PL by conducting a nationally representative survey through RAND’s American Teacher Panel (ATP). Second, the team surveyed teachers who taught in a BellXcel Summer (BXS) program, which uses BellXcel’s model for academic summer programing for students, to understand if and how teachers’ PLopportunities through the program influenced their classroom practices. The team also conducted case studies at several BXS sites, involving observations, interviews, and focus groups with BXS teachers, instructional coaches, and site leaders. The team then compared BXS teachers’ survey responses about their PL experiences with those of teachers nationally.

The findings from this study can assist school and district leaders in understanding how summer can be leveraged as a setting for teachers’ PL.


Steiner, Elizabeth D., Laura Stelitano, Andy Bogart, and Sophie Meyers, How Can Teachers Make the Most of Professional Learning in the Summer?, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, RB-A196-1, 2021. As of January 17, 2021:

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