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 …

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

Preparation is key for parent-teacher conference success

It’s that time of year. Many schools have scheduled fall parent-teacher conferences as the midpoint or end of the schools’ first marking period approaches. These meetings with your child’s teachers are a vital opportunity to build the team that supports each student— and yet most conferences are scheduled in blocks of 30 minutes or less! Planning ahead for the parent-teacher conference can help you to make the most of the experience.

Remember that you are the expert on your child, while the teacher is the expert on teaching. The best outcome of a parent-teacher conference is enhanced collaboration on the

DCAS results are in! How does Delaware measure up?

The 2012 Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) results show an increase in the number of students proficient in reading and mathematics this year compared to a year ago.  Statewide, more than 10,000 additional children are proficient in reading this year as compared to last year, and more than 9,000 additional students reached proficiency in math.

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said, “This success is the result of the combined effort of the students who studied hard and the parents and educators who supported them.  While our collective work is far from done, this is something to celebrate.”

Overall reading and …