BELL Program To Serve More Montgomery County Students This Summer

BELL Program To Serve More Montgomery County Students This Summer

Five weeks of instruction helps counter the 'summer slide,' officials say

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A program designed to keep children learning over summer break is expanding this year to reach 1,600 students at nine Montgomery County public schools in high-poverty areas.

The nonprofit BELL summer program is heading into its third summer providing educational opportunities for youngsters in Title I schools. BELL provides five weeks of instruction to rising third-, fourth- and fifth-graders who are performing below benchmarks in literacy and math, according to a news release.

“We are excited to partner with (Montgomery County Public Schools) again for summer 2018,” Damon Johnson, vice president of partner impact at BELL said in the release. “We will continue to use best practices and lessons learned to ensure scholars’ experiences are engaging and rich.”

The program served 1,050 students from eight Title I schools last summer and will be growing this year to nine sites.

An MCPS evaluation found that children who attended the program outperformed their peers in fourth-grade mathematics. The study determined there were gains among black, Hispanic/Latino and special education students, as well as students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals and receive English for Speakers of Other Languages services.

Students who participated in the program over the last two summers showed particular growth in math, especially African-American fourth-graders, Hispanic/ Latino fifth-graders and ESOL recipients in fifth-grade.

“We are pleased to hear that the BELL program is helping our students prevent the ‘summer slide,’” MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith said in a prepared statement. “We believe that these extended year opportunities will improve students’ academic success, self-confidence and social skills. We are excited to be able to reach even more students this summer.”

This year, English language learner specialists will be on hand at each school site to support teachers and help students learn. There will also be additional staff training for staff before the summer program kicks off.

The BELL program is supported with funds from the County Council and MCPS and through the BELL Foundation and a public-private partnership with the Norman R. and Ruth Rales Foundation.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at

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