Boston Globe Magazine: Five Big Ideas that Just Might Transform the Classroom.
BOSTON - October 7, 2012 - 5. One of the biggest differences in learning between children from privileged backgrounds and those who are disadvantaged doesn't take place during the school year at all. Students in the former category might spend their summers taking karate, visiting the library with a parent or sitter, and learning about history during family vacations. Kids in the latter category often miss out, and studies have shown that ignoring skills learned in the school year comes at a price. Students can lose up to three months of skills before school starts again in September, and once they're behind, they tend to stay behind.
Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), a national nonprofit founded 20 years ago and based in Boston, has figured out a way to change that. It gives the highest-needs kids from the highest-needs schools six weeks of project-based academics with a district's best teachers in the morning, along with enrichment activities in the afternoon and field trips on Fridays.
Does it work? BELL's standardized evaluation tests revealed that during BELL Summer, kids across the country increased an average of 10 percentile points in both reading and math, significantly shrinking the gap between their academic performance and their peers.
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