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READy Scholars: BELL Developing Summer Learning Model to boost Grade-Level Reading Skills

Boston, MA - February 3, 2014 - BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) is creating a new summer learning model to raise the reading skills of scholars in grades K-4. The grade-level reading program, READy Scholars, brings together best practices in early literacy development to help scholars gain core phonics and text skills while gaining a love of reading.

Third grade reading proficiency is a critical benchmark in a scholar's education. By the end of the 3rd grade, scholars are expected to shift from learning to read, to reading to learn. When scholars begin the fourth grade, instruction moves away from letter-sound recognition and basic text structure as scholars are expected extract and use information from text. Yet, every year, more than 80% of disadvantaged children miss this milestone and are at risk of falling behind as their peers apply their reading skills to learn advanced content in social studies, science, and history.

"Reading on grade level by the third grade is one of the most important benchmarks scholars can achieve in their young academic careers," explains Lauren Gilbert, Ed.D., BELL's Vice President of Program. "READy Scholars will provide an intensive and supportive learning experience that helps scholars read and write and enter the fourth grade ready to excel."

BELL designed full- and half-day summer models to engage scholars in high-quality literacy instruction. Each model operates four to five days per week, for five or more weeks. During the morning hours, Monday - Thursday, scholars rotate through a series of reading stations, including small-group instruction, independent and collaborative reading, literacy-building games, and, when possible, a blended learning station with interactive reading technologies.

READy Scholars employs best practices in assessment data-driven instruction. Scholars are grouped according to their reading levels, and teachers use data from adaptive assessments to hone in on scholars' specific learning needs. Full-day models also include enrichment courses such as sports, STEM, the arts, etc, which integrate literacy-building activities and provide opportunities for scholars to apply their reading skills.

Last summer, more than 1,000 3rd graders in BELL's summer learning programs gained new reading skills. While all third graders showed improvement, scholars starting the summer below grade level made the greatest strides. On average, 3rd graders entered BELL Summer two months behind grade-level, and gained two months of skills. They entered fourth grade as stronger readers, eager to learn.

"READy Scholars will build on the successful BELL Summer model that has been proven to boost scholars' reading skills," said Gilbert. "We look forward to partnering with schools to ensure more scholars become motivated and successful readers."