The study took place in 51 school districts across seven states, including urban districts in Alabama, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Texas; suburban districts in Michigan; and rural districts in Kentucky and Louisiana.
On average, White non-Hispanic students comprised 41 - 52% of the sample in each condition, while Black students, the next largest group, comprised 30-41%. Free- or reduced-price lunch status was 38 - 69% of the sample in each condition. Finally, English Language Learner (ELL) status was around 10% in each sample condition.
Cognitive Tutor® Algebra I was implemented for 2 consecutive school years. The curriculum involved teacher-directed classroom instruction 3 days a week and computer-guided instruction 2 days a week. The software was available for students to use during class and other times during the day. It was self-paced, and students’ progress was based on mastery of the material. During the classroom lessons, students were exposed to topics such as solving linear equations, mathematical modeling with linear and quadratic expressions, problem solving using proportion reasoning, and analyzing data and making predictions. To apply these concepts, students completed worksheets
and other activities and engaged in a variety of problem solving strategies. An implementation study indicated that teachers generally implemented all components of Cognitive Tutor® Algebra I, but sometimes emphasized the components differently from the publisher recommendations.
Students in the comparison condition received each school’s existing Algebra I curriculum, which included curricula published by Glencoe, McDougal Littell, and Prentice Hall.
Support for implementation
Teachers received 4 days of training throughout the study. During a 3-day session prior to the school year, teachers were introduced to the curriculum, software, and tools, and provided instruction on connections between the curriculum and software and how to use the data to
inform instruction. Teachers received a fourth day of training during the school year, at which time professional development staff observed classrooms, offered recommendations, and helped with any problems the teachers had. In addition, teachers received training materials,
an implementation guide, and a book of resources and assessments.