The question keeps coming up: What technology should schools invest their money, time, and effort in? During this fraught time in our economy, the decision to invest in tools like adaptive software and other tech devices is sometimes portrayed as excessive or wasteful.
In Sunday's New York Times, Matt Richtel and Trip Gabriel wrote about software program companies inflating their effectiveness in schools, and how they "ignore well-regarded independent studies that test their products’ effectiveness." In the next couple of days, we'll deconstruct the writers' sources of information -- namely the main source for their claim that the technologies are ineffective, the What Works Clearinghouse.
In the meantime, I spoke to Aylon Samouha, Chief Schools Officer at Rocketship Education, a network of charter schools in the Bay Area that uses software to reinforce basic skills mastery. (You can read more about their hybrid learning program and their competitive scores in this MindShift series). Samouha is in charge of the design and strategy of Rocketship's hybrid learning model, as well as its teacher and principal training program, among many other things.
Samouha, who lives and breathes educational software and is consumed with finding the best way to integrate technology into the school day, has a very different perspective than what Richtel and Gabriel portray.
First, the facts. In an independent study released in August by SRI International, which conducted a randomized controlled trial using DreamBox Learning, those who used the program for 16 weeks scored 2.3 points higher on the Northwest Evaluation Association math test than those who didn't -- the equivalent to progressing 5.5 points in percentile ranking (for example, from 50 percent to 55.5 percent).