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[PLUGGED IN] Reading Effectiveness

September 2007
This month's chuckle...<br />
This month's chuckle...

Does Technology Make the Grade?

Last March, a study released by the Department of Education shook the world of ed tech. The study, titled “Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort,” concluded that “test scores were not significantly higher in classrooms using selected reading and mathematics software products.”

The study assigned specific reading and math software to random teacher volunteers in low-income K–12 schools (this economic factor was recommended by the researchers) and compared standard test score results to comparable classrooms that did not use the specific technologies. The companies that volunteered products for the study had to provide some evidence of effectiveness and provide training to the teachers on the use of their products.

So why didn’t these products improve test scores? The participating vendors had documented plenty of school districts that reported increased test scores after using their software. What went wrong, if anything? A second report that will present the effects of individual products will be released soon, but while we wait, education representatives share their reactions
to this study. Read on to see what they have to say.  —Christine Weiser

“Modern information tools and digital content prove their value in schools all across the country every day when implemented, supported, and assessed appropriately. We should support these effective approaches in the learning process because they provide students with the skills and resources they need to succeed in 21st-century work and civic life.”
—Don Knezek, CEO,
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

“If technology is not used properly, scores will not improve. We have to start thinking of schools as businesses, train the teachers, and get parents excited about technology.”  
—James Glover, director of technology,
Moss Point (MS) School District

“It is important to remember that educational software, like textbooks, is only one tool in the learning process. Neither can be a substitute for well-trained teachers, leadership, and parental involvement.”
—Keith Krueger, CEO, The Consortium
for School Networking (CoSN)

“What are we trying to teach students? If we teach traditional styles
of learning like reading and math,
we are probably not going to see the level of technology’s impact. But if you are trying to do 21st-century learning and global awareness, there is no way you can accomplish this without technology.”
—Mike Horan, director of instructional technology,
Sarasota (FL) County Schools

“We didn’t set out to link student achievement to our technology initiative. Our goal for our children is to graduate them to be competitive in a global environment, and you can’t do that without technology.”
 —Agnes Slayman, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction,
Kershaw County (SC) School District

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