Five ways to “use it or lose it” during school breaks

“Use it or lose it!” Adults may have seen this adage on a meme about aging, or heard the advice from a sage physician. But the advice applies to learning, too— and especially what happens for some students during summer breaks.

It makes sense: We lose our skills at what we don’t practice regularly, and that applies to all the skills involved with learning. Research spanning back over 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of a summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of summer. 

The …

Celebrating Public Domain

For the first time in 20 years, new— or rather, old— published works have entered the U.S. public domain.

What does this mean? Well, consider some burning questions.

Like how much of the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost can a teacher publish in a commercial instructional text?

Could a choir sing “Yes! We Have No Bananas” without licensing agreements?

Could a theatre ensemble produce Willis Richardson’s “The Chip Woman’s Fortune“— the first Broadway play produced by an African-American author?

Yes, we were wondering, just like you. 😊

The answer to all …

Holiday Wishes

Thanks for learning & growing with us in 2018!

From our family of staff members & tutors
to your family of loved ones & learners…
we’re wishing you the best of holiday seasons.

Rest up… lots more learning ahead in 2019!

Our office is closed on December 24 & 25.

TUTOR TUESDAY: Margie Speer

In this occasional feature, we’ll be sharing profiles of some of our outstanding tutors. 


The first thing you notice about Margie Speer is that she sparkles.

As she shares enthusiastic stories about her work in education and her family, it’s easy to see that she’s high energy, 

It’s easy to hear how her experiences shaped her passion for math.

And it’s easy to see why she would inspire students to love learning.

She’s made that difference as a tutor for Back to Basics since 2011.

Speer’s background is not the traditional path for an educator. Her degree is in mechanical

How do we measure what matters in learning?

So many measures of student success are calculated in test scores. But many school leaders now seem to doubt whether standardized scores measure whether schools are effective.

A recent Gallup poll found that nine in 10 of U.S. K-12 public school superintendents say that engagement with school, student hopes for the future, and graduation rates are very important measures of school effectiveness. But only 9% of those superintendents described standardized test scores in the same way.

The Gallup Poll underscores that school leaders, as well as other school stakeholders, agree that it is vital for schools to assess …