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New RAND Study Shows BellXcel Boosts Teacher Practices Throughout the School Year – a Statistically Significant Finding!

Read the full case study! Summer can be a good time to boost teacher practices Opportunities for practicing student-centered skills and developmental feedback more critical than ever Ninety-nine percent of teachers engaged in some type of summer professional learning activities in 2019 and applied relevant strategies and tools to improve their school year practices. Yet, according to a first-ever national survey of teachers’ summer professional learning highlighted in a recent RAND Corporation study, opportunities for developmental feedback as part of summer professional learning were uncommon. On the heels of the COVID-19 crisis and extended school closures, access to high-quality professional learning experiences for teachers is more critical than ever. RAND surveyed K-12 teachers nationally through its American Teacher Panel (ATP) and studied BellXcel Summer (BXS), an evidence-based summer program model that provides academic instruction, rooted in social and emotional learning (SEL), to students and professional learning opportunities for teachers. The study explored the national context of professional learning, including teacher perceptions of their experiences, and investigated how BXS teacher experiences compare with those in other programs across the country. The research evidence is clear that summer is a prime opportunity for children to strengthen academic and social and emotional skills through high-quality, evidence-based programs. Study co-author, Elizabeth D. Steiner, a policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization, commented, “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequities that affect students’ ability to learn and nearly all students have been affected by school closures. Our survey of teachers found those employed in summer programs that provide academic instruction could also improve in certain classroom practices during the school year – particularly strategies to support students’ SEL and positive behavior management.” BellXcel CEO Lauren Gilbert, Ed.D, a former educator and school administrator, remarked, “Summer programs are more critical than ever to mitigate learning loss, and this study clearly demonstrates that teachers need to be part of that catch-up initiative. Programs such as those powered by BXS offer teachers powerful, on-the-job professional development opportunities to freely explore and expand their student-centered instruction skills and practices - including positive behavior management and social and emotional learning, without the pressures and constraints of the school year.” Academic summer programs for students—run by school districts and community-based youth development organizations alike—can incorporate teacher professional learning into their own summer programs. The findings in this study can help school leaders and program administrators to make teacher professional learning an intentional piece of their programs and focus on strategies that teachers can use during the school year. Key Findings: Nationally, 99 percent of teachers participated in one or more professional learning activities over the summer and believed that they were relevant, helpful for improving instructional practice, and just as useful as other activities the teachers’ schools and districts provided. However, opportunities to receive developmental feedback (i.e., feedback for the purpose of developing instructional skills) about instruction in the summer were uncommon. Teaching in an academic-focused summer program may provide teachers nationally with opportunities—such as coaching and observations—to receive developmental feedback about instruction and to practice and improve in certain classroom practices. According to teachers, BellXcel Summer (BXS), an academic-focused summer program for students that provides professional learning opportunities to its teachers, had a positive and supportive environment that supported their professional learning. BXS teachers reported that the absence of school-year constraints such as testing and curriculum pacing requirements made the use of some student-centered classroom practices easier during the summer than during the school year. BXS teachers were more likely than teachers nationally to report that their summer professional learning experiences helped them improve their use of student-centered practices during the school year. Academic summer programs may provide unique professional learning opportunities for teachers to practice and improve their use of student-centered classroom practices—particularly positive behavior management and promoting social and emotional learning for students. BXS provided useful insights into the features of academic summer programs that may facilitate teachers’ professional learning, such as the absence of school-year constraints paired with positive and supportive teaching environments.
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Innovating to Meet the Moment: How BellXcel leveraged strategic alliances and disruptive thinking to create a new solution in response to COVID-19

This past March, as schools and youth development organizations nationwide found themselves faced with reimagining how they serve their communities, our team did what we have done best throughout our history – innovated to meet the moment. With a 6-week timeline, our team took 30 years of science and know-how, lifted by the support of our community, and dug into our commitment for all children to excel. COVID-19 forced changes to virtually every aspect of life as we knew it, yet along with the unknowns and the very real crisis this pandemic represented, before us was an opportunity to disrupt our thinking and mobilize our resources into unchartered territory. We invite you to share in the story of BellXcel Remote. Download Story
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Research & Insights

Consistency of real evidence matters, especially when you are driven to ensure equitable high-quality experiences in all communities. BellXcel-powered programs are rigorously tested in diverse controlled settings, critically reviewed by experts, proven effective, and translated into practical, scalable solutions that are widely available. All this so that you can be confident that your programming is built upon solutions that reliably meet the evidence-based indicators required for quality outcomes.
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Remote Quality Reflection Tool

With nearly three decades of experience creating evidence-based programs, we know how important program quality is to a young person's experience and ability to learn and grow. Assessing quality in a remote environment is new to many organizations and was top-of-mind for us as we created BellXcel Remote, our evidence-based, teacher-led approach that adapts the classroom experience for home use during this time of distance learning. We called upon our affiliate, The Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI), to create the Remote Quality Reflection Tool for our remote program partners to assess and understand program quality.   Who can use this tool? We are pleased to make this tool publicly available to empower any program to drive improvement through identifying areas of strength and progress on research-based indicators. We believe that the use of this tool will help to increase the collective knowledge base of remote learning.   Learn how to use this tool Access a series of informative videos to gain guidance, suggestions and best practices when utilizing the Remote Quality Reflection Tool. Click here   Download this free tool today!   Download
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Download the Remote Quality Reflection Tool

Video Tutorials – Remote Quality Reflection Tool

In our efforts to support you in using the Remote Quality Reflection Tool, we are pleased to provide the following videos that offer guidance, suggestions, and best practices when completing indicator ratings and reflecting on quality. Each video focuses on specific areas related to the tool purpose, use and completion, evidence collection, and making the data actionable within your remote learning programs. We hope you will find this information helpful as you rate and reflect on your program quality. Additionally, we encourage you to contact us with your feedback or if we can be of assistance. Introduction to the Remote Quality Reflection Tool [embed]https://youtu.be/T4ej-UlPKcY[/embed]   1. Purpose, Goals and Evidence [embed]https://youtu.be/tgyNhkawlnM[/embed]   2. How to Use the Remote Quality Reflection Tool [embed]https://youtu.be/Mznx3gGqeNw[/embed]   3. Evidence Collection [embed]https://youtu.be/gNSA9JXuvPg[/embed]   4. Reflection and Continuous Improvement [embed]https://youtu.be/0GBFU26DxAY[/embed]
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Summer Collaboration Leads to Year-Round Success in San Antonio, TX

When 10-year-old Hattie Tillman, a rising 6th grader enrolled in YMCA of Greater San Antonio’s Power Scholar Academy (PSA), first embarked on her summer learning journey, she struggled with growth mindset. Today, when she gets an answer wrong, instead of shutting down like she used to, she says “It’s OK. I will get the next one right!” Once shy, she now beams with confidence. She enjoys helping other scholars. Her math and reading skills have always been solid, and through PSA, she’s bringing them to another level. “Here, she’s taking concepts she learned in the school year, and applying them to real-life, instead of compartmentalizing them. She’s learning that they’re all interconnected,” says Veronica Mansfield, academic instructor in PSA and a certified teacher during the school year. “She keeps pushing. Her confidence has improved. I’m proud of her,” said Hattie’s mother Karen Beard. “There’s a lot of negative pressure and violence in our neighborhood. She’s in a safe place to learn and grow.” Hattie is one of many shining examples of scholars enrolled in Power Scholars Academy, a partnership between YMCA of Greater San Antonio and BellXcel. Scholars, are improving their academic skills, social and emotional learning, and self-confidence, preparing them for success in school and beyond. The evidence-based summer program was launched to support struggling local schools, and to address summer learning loss. “Children in our community really need this program. They don’t have access to the same things other children do over the summer,” says Catherine Alvarado, Senior Director of Grant Administration and Program Innovation. “This is one of the poorest districts in San Antonio, and literacy is one of our biggest areas of need. This is my community. What pulls me in is knowing that we are helping children become more successful.” The PSA program’s success can also be attributed to the close, collaborative relationship with the schools they serve. This relationship isn’t confined to the summer months. It is year-round. Two PSA program directors, Elisa Felix and Edna Castillo-Saucedo, are embedded in the schools during the school-year. “Being in the school enables me to closely work with teachers and counselors, and engage with parents, to identify and enroll students who need extra help into the summer program,” Felix says. “We see the difference this level of engagement with schools is having compared to other sites,” said Alvarado. “We are a pillar of the school. We are a bridge for that continuum of learning with students from their community. When we speak to a financial supporter about the community needs, we speak to our impact on scholars, teachers, and on moving the entire school forward.” The partnership with BellXcel has helped their program reach new heights of success, says Alvarado. “This is too big a problem for one agency to handle alone,” Alvarado says. “Without the support of BellXcel, we wouldn’t have the data we so desperately need to prove that the program is working. Funders want to see outcomes, more than just outputs. BellXcel helps us prove that what we are doing in the partnership is working.”
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Meet Myima

Myima is a rising 7th grade scholar in her second summer enrolled in a BellXcel-powered summer program.   How did you feel initially about being enrolled in the program? Honestly, I was a little scared at first because I didn’t know if I was going to know anybody and if I was going to make any friends.   So did you end up making new friends? Yes! I made new friends, and also saw some familiar faces. It was nice to see my classmates over the summer too. How has the program helped you with your academics? I get mostly As and Bs in school. I think the program has helped me maintain my skills. If I wasn’t here, I’d probably be behind in school. It’s sort of re-teaching you what you did in school, so you still know what to do when you go back to school.   Was there a part of the program that you enjoyed the most? One of my favorite parts was a literacy project when we had to finish the ending of a play. We had to make up the ending, and act it out. I liked that you got to just make stuff up, and choose what happens with the characters. It’s a different way of learning compared to the school year. It’s more creative.
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Meet Geffrey

Geffrey is a rising 6th grade scholar in his first summer enrolled in a BellXcel-powered summer program. Tell us about what you are learning in the program. We learn a lot in fun activities and they teach us math and language arts. In math, I’m learning how to subtract, add, and multiply fractions and decimals. When you go back to school do you feel you will have a head-start? Yeah, I think because most people if they don't go to summer school, they might lose their knowledge about some important stuff. I think I am better prepared for school. Some of my friends in 6th grade told me it’s a review of what they learned in school so I’m getting a head start. It’s making us review the materials. What is the difference between this and school?  I think it’s more fun learning and the teachers have more time to spend with you to teach you things you are having a hard time with. That’s the biggest difference – not feeling so pressured and rushed. What else do you like about the program? I can go up to the whiteboard more and write answers the questions. I can participate more.
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Meet BellXcel

For 30 years, BellXcel’s vision for all children to excel has fueled our pursuit of evidence, access, and equity. Proven science and practices on the ingredients that drive high-quality outcomes empower our youth development and school partners to reach more scholars and transform their lives, anywhere, anytime, any way.
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Lauren Sanchez Gilbert, Ed.D.

Lauren’s education roots run deep. With extensive experience across the sector, Lauren is uniquely qualified to lead BellXcel’s innovations in proven educational solutions. In addition to the BellXcel leadership roles she’s held during her 10-year tenure, Lauren draws upon a range of past roles from YMCA director of youth programming to special education teacher in her native New Mexico to assistant superintendent for a large school district in Massachusetts.  Lauren knows what keeps youth leaders, educators, and school administrators up at night because she has walked in their shoes. Her deeply held belief to reach more young people where they are, through the adults they know, with strategies that work fuels BellXcel’s partnership with leaders serving children, families, and communities nationwide.  Her commitment to build the sector’s capacity by turning evidence into action inspired BellXcel’s independent affiliate, the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation (SCRI). SCRI bridges the research to practice to policy gap, continuously bringing new research and practical insights to elevate the quality and impact of youth organizations and schools. Lauren holds a Doctorate in Education from Boston College and a Bachelor Degree in Special Education from the University of New Mexico. She attended the highly-selective nonprofit leadership program at Harvard University and is a Results for America Nonprofit Fellow. Her Board service includes the Bridgespan Group’s Knowledge Advisory Board focused on accelerating impact in the social sector, as well as, Roca’s Board of Directors focused on engaging young adults to create systemic change in urban environments.
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