EdX, NSLA Team Up to Combat Summer Slide with Online Education


Non-profit online learning initiative EdX has partnered with the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) in an effort to expand their summer course offerings and put an end to the “summer slide.”

The company plans on offering over 60 courses in a variety of core subjects, including math, science and language, as well as skills-based courses such as software development, computer science and innovation.  Additional courses will be made available to help high school students with AP exams and college admissions, writes Joshua Bolkan for Campus Technology.

“NSLA is delighted to partner with edX as they expand their selection of high-quality online courses available free to students this summer,” said NSLA CEO Sarah Pitcock. “EdX gives young people exciting opportunities to learn new skills, explore and develop new interests – important experiences that can make a difference in preparing students for college and career success.”

Research has shown that children lose some of what they have learned throughout the year during the summer months if they are not participating in educational opportunities.  According to a 2007 study performed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University who looked at the academic progress of students in Baltimore between the first grade and age 22, 75% of of the reading achievement gap seen in 9th graders was due to unequal access to educational opportunities in summer months.

A variety of other studies performed over the last century agree with that finding, showing that the average student will test lower at the end of the summer months on the same exam taken at the end of the prior school year.  A study published by the RAND Corporation in 2011 found that the performance of elementary school students fell by about a month over the course of the summer.  That decline was found to be worse for low-income students.

In addition, the achievement gap was found to only increase between higher and lower-income students each year, possibly due to unequal access to summer education.  Because of this, low-income students become less likely to graduate high school or enter college.

“The summer slide is a very real challenge faced by many American students, and it can be detrimental to their overall educational development,” said Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX. “Online learning, because it offers free and openly available tools and resources, enables motivated students to combat this challenge head-on. By offering a full array of courses, available to anyone, anytime, we are hopeful that we can provide continual learning opportunities and curb the regression of academic ability that often occurs over these pivotal months.”

The NSLA is the only national nonprofit whose focus is solely based on closing the achievement gap through the offering of a high-quality program in the summer months for children and youth and increasing access to educational and developmental opportunities.

The group is leading National Summer Learning Day on Friday, June 19.  The day is dedicated to promoting summer learning while keeping children safe and healthy in an educational atmosphere.