Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort

Report to Congress
Mar 30, 2007
Authors
Mark Dynarski, Roberto Agodini, Sheila Heaviside, Timothy Novak, Nancy Carey, Larissa Campuzano, Barbara Means, Robert Murphy, William Penuel, Hal Javitz, Deborah Emery, and Willow Sussex
The No Child Left Behind Act called for the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a national study of the effectiveness of educational technology. The study identified reading and mathematics software products based on prior evidence of effectiveness and other criteria and used an experimental design to assess the effects of technology products, with volunteering teachers randomly assigned to use or not use selected products. On average, after one year, products did not increase or decrease test scores by amounts that were statistically different from zero. In addition, effects were correlated with some classroom and school characteristics. For reading products, effects on overall test scores were correlated with the student-teacher ratio in first grade classrooms and with the amount of time that products were used in fourth grade classrooms. For math products, effects were uncorrelated with classroom and school characteristics.