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WBTV: BELL is helping CMS students make the grade in reading

By Dedrick Russell
Published on WBTV.com on July 1, 2015

CHARLOTTE, NC - Nearly 2,300 third-graders in Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) district still are not performing on grade level when it comes to reading. Those students have been encouraged to attend the Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) summer program.

The program focuses on literacy and other subjects to help students get ready for the new school year. The BELL program is serving 2900 students locally at 18 sites in Charlotte. This year, BELL invited second and third-graders to participate. That invitation caused attendance to more than triple.

One site is at Barringer Academic Center. Nearly 200 students are attending Barringer to get ahead. Barringer is a site that only focuses on literacy.

"We have a lot of students who are considered at-risk," Barringer Academic Center's Shalinda Williams said. "They need that additional support, so we are very excited to have strong teachers to help those boys and girls to get that additional support."

Besides serving CMS students, students across North Carolina and South Carolina are also taking advantage of the BELL program. This will take the number to about 4,500 students getting help from BELL.

Reports show BELL is pays off for students. Results show during the two month summer vacation, BELL students on average gained 2.6 months in reading and 2.7 months in math.

Those CMS students who failed the End of Grade Reading test will have another opportunity at the end of July to pass and go to the fourth grade.

Educators says being able to read on grade level by third grade is important.

"We express it all the time," Williams said. "How important it is to be a productive citizen and being a productive citizen means being able to read, so you can work, get a job and go to college."