BELL rigorously evaluates program impact through a series of quantitative and qualitative measures, including computer adapative assessments administered on a pre- and post-program basis; parent, teacher, and scholar surveys; youth outcome assessments; and portfolio assessment. 

At the start of each BELL program, scholars complete a computer adaptive assessment built for Common Core State Standards to enable teachers to identify strengths and weaknesses and develop individualized learning plans.  At the end of each BELL program, a second assessment or test quantify scholar learning gains, while a series of scholar, teacher, and parent surveys provide qualitative data about changes in scholars’ self-concept and social competency. 

BELL’s evaluation reports are prepared by members of its program team and published at the completion of each BELL Summer and BELL After School program cycle.  BELL’s measurement process is overseen by its Evaluation Advisory Board.

Evaluation results are used to support scholar achievement, demonstrate program impact to parents, teachers, principals, donors, and other partners, and continuously strengthen program quality. BELL’s model of applying evaluation data for continuous program improvement has been nationally recognized by the Academy for Educational Development as a best practice in expanded learning programming.

Evaluation Questions

The questions guiding the outcome measurement process of the BELL Summer and After School programs include:

  • Did scholars demonstrate improved literacy and math skills?
  • Did scholars demonstrate improvement during the school day?
  • Did scholars report higher levels of self-esteem?
  • Did scholars demonstrate improved social skills?
  • Did parents engage in scholars’ education?
  • Did the program meet parents’ expectations?

Academic Measures

Grade-Equivalent Scores: Grade-equivalent gains are an important indicator of student success in the summer because they provide an absolute measure of growth about how much a student has progressed up the proficiency ladder.

Percentile Ranks: Percentile Rank scores range from a low of 1 to a high of 99, with 50 representing the middle score and denoting average performance.  They are useful indicators of scholar success because they provide a relative measure that compares BELL scholar performance to national norms.  Scholars who are under-performing when they enroll in BELL programs, and who increase their percentile rank scores by participating, gain ground and narrow the achievement gap between them and their peers. 

Normal Curve Equivalent Scores: Normal curve equivalent (NCE) scores show a student’s relative position compared to others in the same grade and tested at the same time of year.  A gain in NCE indicates that the student has “grown” more than the norm group.  The average student demonstrates no change for a NCE score of zero. BELL scholars are targeted for underperformance in school and need to learn at an accelerated rate in order to succeed academically (i.e., demonstrate a positive change in NCE scores).