The study was conducted in 11 fifth-grade classrooms across four schools in a single school district in south central Pennsylvania. The study occurred in the 2005–06 school year.
At the beginning of the study, 13 fifth-grade teachers in five schools in a single school district were randomly assigned to use either Odyssey Math or Odyssey Language Arts in their classrooms. As confirmed through an author query, random assignment of the teachers occurred after students were assigned to classrooms by their principals. For this review, students in the Odyssey Math classrooms served as the intervention group, while students in the Odyssey Language Arts classrooms served as the comparison group. Two classrooms were excluded from the analysis because the school was a magnet school with a demographic composition that differed from the other schools. After excluding students with missing data, the analytic sample included four schools, seven intervention classrooms (with 125 students), and four comparison classrooms (with 82 students). Approximately 7% of the students in the analytic sample were non-White, 63% of the students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch, and 14% of students had an Individualized Education Plan.
Students in the intervention group used Odyssey Math during the 2005–06 school year as a supplement to their core mathematics curriculum, Houghton Mifflin Mathematics. Teachers were asked to use the software a minimum of 90 minutes per week, but usage levels varied across classrooms, in part because of access to technology. In two of the schools, students could only access the software during their weekly assigned time in the computer labs. In the other two schools, students had greater access to the software, as it was available during their weekly computer labs, in their classrooms via wireless laptops, and at home. At two of the schools, some students may have had access to the Odyssey software as fourth graders—the year before the study began. At least one fourth grade class in each of these two schools had the Odyssey software, but it is unclear how many students from those fourth grade classes are included in the intervention group.
Students in the comparison group used the district’s core mathematics curriculum, Houghton Mifflin Mathematics. The comparison students used the Odyssey® Language Arts software and may have used Odysse® software in other subjects, but they were not permitted to use Odyssey Math. At two of the schools, some students may have had access to the Odyssey software as fourth graders—the year before the study began. At least one fourth grade class in each of these two schools had the Odyssey software, but it is unclear how many students from those fourth grade classes are included in the comparison group.
Support for implementation
The report does not specify how much training intervention teachers received. The district purchased teacher professional development from Compass Learning® in two of the study schools during the year prior to the study (2004–05) through an Enhancing Education Through Technology grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. During the study year (2005–06), teachers who used Odyssey® during the previous school year (2004–05) trained their colleague teachers who were using the software for the first time (in 2005–06).