Congress posed questions about the effectiveness of educational technology and how effectiveness is related to conditions and practices. The study identified reading and mathematics software products based on prior evidence of effectiveness and other criteria and recruited districts, schools, and teachers to implement the products. On average, after one year, products did not increase or decrease test scores by amounts that were statistically different from zero.
For first and fourth grade reading products, the study found several school and classroom characteristics that were correlated with effectiveness, including student-teacher ratios (for first grade) and the amount of time products were used (for fourth grade). The study did not find characteristics related to effectiveness for sixth grade math or algebra. The study also found that products caused teachers to be less likely to lecture and more likely to facilitate, while students using reading or mathematics software products were more likely to be working on their own.
The results reported here are based on schools and teachers who were not using the products in the previous school year. Whether products are more effective when teachers have more experience using them is being examined with a second year of data. The study will involve teachers who were in the first data collection (those who are teaching in the same school and at the same grade level or subject area) and a new group of students. The second-year study will also report results separately for the various products.