A national nonprofit founded in 1992

Smarter Summers Blog: Summer Reset: Boosting attendance with skill-building fun

I used to teach 7th grade English Language Arts in Brooklyn. I remember the look of dread on my students' faces when their worst fears were realized: failing scores on their math or ELA state tests meant they would have to attend summer school.

Who could blame them? Sitting at a desk for four hours a day, doing the same things in August they did throughout the school year is hardly any kid's idea of a great way to spend a summer.

The research tells us it's also not the best way to get kids back on track through summer learning. The same principles apply during summer as during the school year. When kids are excited and motivated by what they're learning, they increase their achievement, and have a more positive attitude about themselves as learners and about school.

That's what I saw when I visited a Smarter Summers program in the Bronx this week. The principal and teachers from Frederick Douglass Academy V Middle School are working with BELL community educators to offer summer learning both to failing students who have been mandated by the New York City school system to attend, and to many others who come voluntarily.

I saw students sculpting pottery in the style of Ancient Greece, the subject of some nonfiction they had read earlier in the day while concentrating on literacy, writing, and math. Others were having a blast in an improvisation class, a creative forum for learning to control, and express their emotions. They were looking forward to visiting the space shuttle soon at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

Program numbers tell a success story-just 67% of mandated students attend traditional summer school, while attendance for this more balanced program is close to 90%.

Elizabeth Olsson, Policy Coordinator




Related News

Community Support Image

Mobilizing to Support Our Partners' Success

Dear Friends, For all of us, this past week’s daycare and school closings due to COVID-19 have presented a multitude of new challenges and experiences. We at BellXcel and our affiliate the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI) have thought deeply about our role and we are putting into...
Sperling Center for Research and Innovation Main Image

Welcome to BellXcel's Sperling Center for Research and Innovation

We have exciting news to share. BellXcel has launched the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI). Named in honor of our longtime board chair, Laurene Sperling, the Center is dedicated to increasing the quality and impact of youth-serving organizations by making evidence actionable. Too...
Educators of the Year in Montgomery, Alabama

BellXcel Names Educators of the Year

MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA — BellXcel is pleased to recognize Darryl Woods and Connel VanDiver with its Educator of the Year award. The Montgomery, AL, educators are essential to delivering dynamic, evidence-based summer learning with measurable outcomes at the YMCA of Greater Montgomery’s Power Scholar...