Better Basics programs make a difference for children in our community. We know it. We see the difference each time we work with students. Measuring and understanding the impact we make is more difficult. Thankfully, The Center for the Study of Community Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham helped Better Basics evaluate the impact and outcome of our literacy programs again this year. I will share those results with you over the next couple of weeks.
Surveys and calculations are very important; however many times those numbers don’t tell the entire story. Today I heard laughing and celebrating down the halls of the office, so I went out to find out the cause of the merriment.
We had received an evaluation report from one of our community partners in the Better Basics Summer Learning Camp. She articulated the impact we could see, but that test scores couldn’t fully represent. Our partner had written the following:
“I wish that we were able to videotape the kids when they first started the camp and again at the end. We had kids that walked through the doors with mood disorders and were anti-social, but left with confidence and several friends. There were students who were not able to recite the alphabet or spell even small words. There were kids who caused so much trouble in their classes because they felt as though they were too dumb to answer questions, or were afraid of answering incorrectly and being picked on by classmates. Now these same children hold their heads up high and raise their hands when they think that they know the answers. These kids now have confidence, whereas before they had none! All of this was because they were given an opportunity to receive instruction from caring adults that took the time to show them that education is important and that they can learn.”
We did see positive results in the test scores of the students we served at this camp. However, this administrator didn’t think those positive test results told the entire story. The impact of this program didn’t just lie in the improvement in scores, but in that spark of confidence instilled in these students.
As our programs begin this school year, we are excited about the opportunities to make a positive difference for more students in our community.