BELL is committed to building the evidence base around how more time for learning can increase scholar achievement. Through a culture of continuous improvement, and rigorous third-party evaluations, we learn more about what works to ensure that our programs evolve to meet the needs of scholars, families, and schools. We are fortunate to have the support of donors who share our commitment to research and learning. After all, less than 4% of nonprofits have rigorous evidence of impact in the form of randomized controlled trial studies, the "gold standard" in research design.
URBAN INSTITUTE EVALUATION
Researchers from the Urban Institute completed a two-year, randomized controlled trial of BELL Summer and its impact on scholars' reading achievement and parental involvement.
The evaluation, Impact of a Summer Learning Program: A Random Assignment Study of Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) found statistically significant evidence regarding the ability of the BELL Summer program to improve the reading skills of low-performing children. In addition, the study found evidence of positive impacts on the degree to which parents encouraged their children to read, and the degree to which they read with their children.
These results are of particular importance given the long-standing public policy focus on raising achievement levels of students living in under-resourced communities. Our data-driven approach sets BELL apart as one of very few summer learning models with strong evidence of impact.
"The Urban Institute's evaluation of BELL Summer demonstrates the power structured learning can have on a child's life during the summer months. It furthers BELL's conviction that high-quality summer learning experiences must be made available to thousands of additional children to help them excel in school and become scholars and leaders in their communities."
Tiffany C. Gueye, Ph.D.
Researchers from MDRC completed a one-year, randomized controlled trial of BELL's summer program for middle school scholars. The study investigated academic impact, as well as program implementation and scholar engagement.
The evaluation, An Analysis of the Effects of an Academic Summer Program for Middle School Students, found evidence that suggests participating in summer learning increases the math achievement of middle school students. It also found that BELL and its school partners implemented high-quality programming, which achieved high scholar attendance.
Despite some limitations to the study's design and execution, these findings are important given the lack of evidence of what works for increasing middle school student achievement in the summer.