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State education department encourages summer learning programs

To help students stay academically engaged during the summer, the Alabama State Department of Education, with the help of Fuel Education, is launching its seventh annual Alabama Summer Learning Challenge.

From May through July, students across the state have free access to two FuelEd online learning tools: Stride, an award-winning digital learning solution that rewards student progress with games, and Big Universe, an online literacy platform featuring thousands of eBooks.

“We are excited about this statewide partnership to provide great resources and tips to help parents and teachers support student learning throughout the summer months,” said Alabama State Superintendent of Education Eric Mackey. “Providing opportunities for students to continue their educational growth during the summer break is vital. By staying actively engaged in learning during this time, students can improve their ability to transition into new academic grades and classrooms.

“Our state is proud to be a part of this special effort to further K-12 student learning and growth,” Mackey added.

A representative from Russellville City Schools said RCS does not use these programs but definitely encourages summer learning. RCS’ own summer program that has proven to be a “great resource” for RCS students.

We certainly encourage our students and parents to prevent the summer slide by engaging in summer learning opportunities,” the RCS representative said.

Stride is an online, adaptive learning platform that inspires students to practice and master concepts in math, reading, English/language arts and science, motivating them with access to online games. When they answer questions correctly, students earn Stride “coins” to redeem for time playing Stride’s games.

Schools in Alabama and across the country also use Stride during the academic year for assessment and test readiness in the classroom. Built-in assessments gauge whether students are at grade level for end-of-course and end-of-year tests, helping educators track student performance and guide instructional intervention.

Big Universe gives students 24/7 online access to a library of more than 14,000 leveled eBooks from well-known publishers. The library has titles addressing a wide range of skills and grade levels, as well as diverse topics tailored to students’ interests in order to spark a love of reading.

The mobile program includes engaging reading practice opportunities, such as read-aloud activities, guided reading and interactive writing and reading workshops. It also includes integrated tools such as embedded assessments, a student recommendation engine and analytics to demonstrate reading growth.

“Stride and Big Universe will inspire students to continue learning throughout the summer and will prove to be valuable tools for teachers to engage their students in the fall,” said Dr. Lisa Collins, vice president of instruction at Fuel Education. “By providing students with these platforms that spark student interest and engage them in fun ways to learn, the Alabama State Department of Education is preparing its students for a strong start to next school year.”

Last summer, nearly 40,000 Alabama students answered more than five million Stride skills practice questions in math, reading, language arts and science.

To learn more about the Alabama Summer Learning Challenge visit