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BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)

BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)

Elementary School Summer Learning Program

A randomized controlled trial completed by the Urban Institute and Mathematica Policy Research in 2006, Impact of a Summer Learning Program, showed that BELL’s summer program had a statistically significant impact on reading achievement, reducing summer learning loss for low-income elementary school students who were academically behind. The Urban Institute concluded: "The study found that children in the BELL treatment group gained about a month's worth of reading skills more than their counterparts in the comparison group during the summer. This is a modest, yet notable increase in reading skills for a six-week program."

Within EMCF’s framework for assessing an organization’s evidence of effectiveness, BELL’s afterschool and elementary school summer learning programs meet the standard of “proven effectiveness,” while its middle school summer learning program meets the standard of “high apparent effectiveness.”

Middle School SUMMER Learning Program

In 2015, MDRC published the findings of a randomized controlled trial evaluation of BELL’s middle school program. The study showed that the program was implemented well and attendance was high. The program’s effect on math was equivalent to more than one month of regular schooling (as one might expect from a five-week program) but, given the margin of error, the impact on students’ math achievement needs to be confirmed in a future study. BELL students did not have higher reading test scores than non-BELL students. This is consistent with a recent study conducted by Rand of summer programs for elementary school students in five school districts, which also found effects on math but no impacts on reading.


Committed as it is to continuous learning and improvement, BELL has made several changes to its middle school program to enhance its quality. BELL is working with a Middle School Advisory Board and MDRC to test these refinements.   


Since 2003, BELL uses internally collected data to produce yearly reports after completing its summer and afterschool programs. Reports going back to 2009 are available on BELL's website.