New ed-tech services aim to stop the ‘summer slide’

TenMarks, which was acquired by Amazon last year, offers web-based math practice and instruction, with analytics to help track students’ progress. The basic version is offered free of charge, while a premium version—which starts at $20 per student, per year, with volume discounts available—includes real-time intervention and automated differentiation.

Through the TenMarks Summer Math Program, the company will offer its premium version at no cost for students in AASA member districts during the summer months—creating a personalized summer program that is tailored to meet students’ needs.

Using a diagnostic assessment, the program will create an individualized summer curriculum for each student, designed to review previously taught concepts and introduce new concepts for the year ahead.

As students work through math problems, they will use embedded hints and video lessons to refresh what they know while learning new concepts, TenMarks said. The program will respond with targeted interventions when it recognizes a need—and TenMarks will offer end-of-summer reports for families and school districts to help inform instruction for the new school year.

“Summer learning loss in mathematics is a big problem and should be a major concern across the country. One very successful solution is the use of online programs that address the individual needs of students and provide reinforcement and learning in fun and engaging ways,” said David Driscoll, Massachusetts’ former commissioner of education and a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, in a press release.

EverFi’s Verano Summer Learning program will deliver age-appropriate content around math, reading, vocabulary, civic engagement, and financial literacy in short, 30-minute “engagement pieces” over the summer, Davidson said in an interview with eSchool News.

The program is “not meant to be summer school, or a full course,” he added. Instead, it’s meant to keep students’ minds active during the summer months.

In rolling out this program for students, EverFi will follow the same unique model it uses for its other programs, which reportedly have served some 7 million students so far: The company identifies sponsors to underwrite the cost, so school districts themselves pay nothing to participate.

Research suggests that summer learning loss also affects reading skills, though this effect varies widely according to students’ socioeconomic status. Low-income students generally lose about two months of reading achievement, while middle-income students—who are more likely to read on their own—experience slight gains in reading performance.

The low-income students who stand to benefit the most from online summer enrichment programs from companies such as EverFi and TenMarks are also the students who are least likely to have computers and internet access at home—a fact that Davidson readily acknowledges.

“We understand this issue and know that it [could] be an impediment to our success,” he said. “It is one of the reasons we are focusing on deploying low-bandwidth solutions for mobile phones, where the penetration is deeper for families in high-need communities. We are also building out our network of public facilities—libraries, community-based organizations, and others that have the infrastructure [to serve these students].”

Follow Editorial Director Dennis Pierce on Twitter: @eSN_Dennis.

Dennis Pierce

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