1. How do students describe academic press and personalism in Summer Bridge?
2. To what extent do these descriptions differ from those of the school year?
3. How do these perceptions vary by student demographic and performance characteristics?
Increased use of high-stakes testing has been accompanied by an expansion of summer school programming. Few investigations focus on student experience within these programs. Using multiple methods, we examined how low-performing students attending the Chicago Public Schools' Summer Bridge program perceived their summer learning environments. Students reported substantial increases in academic press and personalism between the school year and summer. Qualitative analysis revealed that over half of the students characterized their experience as substantively better in the summer than in the school year. They particularly focused on exposure to new content, increased attention from teachers, and an improved classroom climate that helped in the mastery of material.