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National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance


Effectiveness of Reading and Mathematics Software Products: Findings from the First Student Cohort
NCEE 2007-4005
March 2007

Effects of Algebra Products

The algebra study included three products that were implemented in 10 districts and 23 schools. The sample included 69 classrooms and 1,404 students. The three products were Cognitive Tutor Algebra (published by Carnegie Learning), Plato Algebra (published by Plato), and Larson Algebra (published by Houghton-Mifflin).

Products covered a conventional range of algebra topics. They included functions, linear equations, and inequalities; quadratic equations; linear expressions; polynomials; and so on. One product constituted a full curriculum, and the majority of its activities were carried out in "offline" class periods. The other two were supplements to the regular curriculum. The study estimated the average licensing fees for the products to be about $15 a student for the school year, with a range of $7 to $30.

Product records showed that student usage was 15 hours for the overall sample, equivalent to about 10 percent of math instructional time. Usage averaged 5 to 28 hours, depending on the product.

Algebra products did not affect test scores by amounts that were statistically different from zero (see Figure 5). As with products in the other grade levels, the study observed large differences in effects between schools, but statistical tests indicated that the school and classroom characteristics measured in the study were not related to these differences.