BOSTON, MA — As educators and parents strive to avoid summer learning loss and the widening of the achievement gap for our nation’s students, BELL™ (Building Educated Leaders for Life™) has begun its fourteenth year of serving children through its nationally acclaimed program, BELL Summer. Focusing on under-resourced communities in five states, the BELL Summer program will bring an enriching summer learning experience to more than 3,200 students; returning to serve communities in Baltimore, Boston, Detroit and New York City, and expanding to Charlotte and Flint and Saginaw, Michigan.
According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning, most students lose an average of 2–3 months of academic skills during the summer. In a recent interview, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan characterized the effects of “summer learning loss” as “devastating” and “well-documented.” For low-income students, this backsliding is more dramatic and is a significant contributor to the achievement gap, which, according to a 2009 report by McKinsey and Company, represents a cost of as much as $670 Billion to our nation’s economy.
Given the impact of summer learning loss and the urgency to address it, Secretary Duncan has stated, “We don’t need more research [on the topic of summer learning loss], we need to do something about it.” He continues, saying that enriching, academic summer programs are “one of the best investments that [states and districts] can make.”
The BELL Summer program, first introduced by BELL in 1996, is proof that investments in summer learning can make a difference. According to BELL pre- and post-test data using the Stanford Diagnostic reading test, the BELL Summer program helps students, whom BELL calls “scholars,” reduce their achievement gap in reading by an average of at least 50% during the six-week program. Furthermore, a 2006 study by the Urban Institute found statistically significant positive impacts on the children who attended the BELL Summer program:
- BELL scholars had higher reading comprehension and overall reading scores, compared to students who attend the same number of school days.
- Children’s participation in BELL Summer increased the time they spent on academic activities and the number of books they read by 50%, and decreased their time spent watching television and playing computer games.
- 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.
The award-winning BELL Summer program increases children’s knowledge and mastery of the basic skills of reading, writing and math, raises their self-esteem, empower parents, and supports effective mentoring relationships between children and positive adult role models. The program serves children in elementary and middle school, and includes academics linked to state and national standards, enrichment courses, guest speakers, field trips and community service projects. Once a week, students participate in field trips, listen to guest speakers and participate in community service projects. Programs in Michigan and Charlotte began on June 29, and all other programs begin on July 6.
“The impact of enriching, academically focused summer programs have a dramatic impact on students’ future success in life,” said Dr. Tiffany Cooper Gueye. “Summer learning represents a tremendous opportunity for our scholars to advance their academic goals. We are excited and proud to partner with schools, government agencies, and corporate and foundation supporters to bring BELL Summer to our communities for the fourteenth year.”
BELL has received national acclaim when BELL Summer was cited as a model program in President Obama’s 2005 “STEP-UP” legislation for summer learning programs. The legislation cites BELL Summer as a program proven to remedy, reinforce and accelerate learning while helping to close the achievement gap in education.
About BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life):
BELL, founded in 1992, is one of the nation’s leading providers of quality afterschool and summer educational programs. It is committed to enhancing the educational achievements, self-esteem and life opportunities of children living in under-resourced communities. BELL serves more than 11,000 children annually in schools throughout Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, Flint (Mich.), New York City and Saginaw (Mich.). Please visit www.experiencebell.org for more information.
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