CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- EdX, the nonprofit online learning initiative founded by Harvard and MIT, today announced a special selection of high-quality, free courses available to help all combat "summer slide." The offering is provided in conjunction with efforts from the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), the only national nonprofit exclusively focused on closing the achievement gap through high-quality summer learning for all children and youth.
The NSLA's mission is to increase access to educational and developmental opportunities throughout the summer months. On Friday, June 19th, the NSLA will lead National Summer Learning Day, an annual day of advocacy dedicated to elevating the importance of summer learning, keeping kids safe, healthy, and academically active throughout the school break. The program points parents and students to educational opportunities, like edx.org where learners can enroll in free online courses.
As one of the supporting organizations recommended by NSLA, edX will offer more than 60 courses from top institutions in core subjects such as math, science, and language as well as skills-based courses in software development, computer science and innovation—ideal for career-minded high schoolers, college-age students, and working professionals. In addition, select courses will be offered to help high school students with their AP exams and college admissions efforts. These courses include:
- MyCS: Computer Science for Beginners – A fun and creative introduction to computer science for learners of all ages
- Pre-University Calculus – A course that helps students prepare for Introductory Calculus classes
- On-Ramp to AP Physics C: Mechanics – This course aids students who have taken intro-level high-school physics, getting them ready for more advanced courses including AP Physics C: Mechanics
- Preparing for the AP* Spanish Language and Culture Exam – This course to perfect your Spanish speaking and writing skills while learning about the cultural aspect of the Spanish-speaking world to prepare for the AP* Spanish Language and Culture exam
- Programming in Scratch – A course to teach children (and programming rookies of any age) how to code
- Introduction to Psychology – A course to study the human condition, including learning, behavior and dysfunction
A full list of courses is available at edx.org/summer-learning.
"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."
As a whole, young students consistently experience learning losses when not engaged in educational activities during summer months. In a 2007 study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University tracked the academic progress of Baltimore students from first grade through to age 22. They concluded that two-thirds of the 9th grade reading achievement gap could be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.
Numerous additional studies conducted over the last century have shown that students typically test lower at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same exams at the beginning of the season. One example, published by the RAND Corporation in 2011, found that elementary students' performance falls by about a month over the summer. Additionally, they discovered that decline is far worse for lower-income students and that the effects are cumulative – the achievement gap widens between higher- and lower-income students year after year. Unequal access to summer learning opportunities is believed to be responsible for more than half of the gap between lower- and higher-income students. As a result, these low-income students are also less likely to graduate from high school or to 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."
EdX is a nonprofit, open-source enterprise offering online courses from more than 75 member institutions, composed of both leading global universities and colleges and a diverse group of prominent organizations from around the world. Founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, edX is focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research on an open-source platform. Based in Cambridge, MA, USA, edX is focused on people, not profit.
*Advanced Placement® and AP® are trademarks registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, these offerings.