Archive for December, 2009

Computer-Aided Instruction Led to Algebra Gains

Monday, December 21st, 2009

By Sean Cavanagh (Mar. 10, 2009)

Computer-aided instruction can potentially improve student learning in prealgebra and algebra, partly because the technology gives teachers the ability to tailor instruction to children’s individual needs, a new study says.

The study, which appears in the February issue of the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, found that students using a particular program made gains in mathematics test scores. Those improvements were especially strong for students in large classes and those with high absentee rates.

Computer-assisted instruction “has the potential to significantly enhance student mathematics achievement in middle and high school,” the authors conclude, and could be easier for schools and districts to use than other math interventions.

The study examines one program, called “I Can Learn,” which uses computer software and hardware and includes a classroom-management tool for teachers. The research was released as the federal What Works Clearinghouse gave that prealgebra and algebra program a positive review.

The researchers were Lisa Barrow, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Lisa Markman, the acting director of the Education Research Section at Princeton University; and Cecilia Elena Rouse, a professor of economics and public affairs who is also at Princeton. Ms. Rouse also has been nominated to serve on President Barack Obama’s White House Council of Economic Advisers.

They conducted a randomized study of students in three urban districts, some taught with the technology, others without it. The researchers began their study with 3,451 late-middle and early-high school students from 17 schools. They looked at students’ pre- and post-test results in specially designed algebra exams, as well as statewide tests.

Not Cheap

The authors found that student achievement rose significantly for students who used the technology, with somewhat larger gains for students in larger classes. The effect was somewhat smaller on state math tests—not surprising, the authors say, given the relatively small amount of prealgebra and algebra content on those exams. The test-score increases were comparable to those achieved through efforts to reduce class sizes, the authors say. They also say that computer-aided instruction could potentially be cheaper than making classes smaller for districts seeking to raise math achievement, given the cost and difficulty of hiring new math teachers.

Yet the computer-assisted program does carry a significant cost, according to the study. A 30-seat technology lab such as the one used in the study would cost $100,000, the authors estimate, with an additional $150,000 for prealgebra, algebra, and classroom-management software, plus yearly maintenance and training costs.

Given the price tag, adopting the program is not something “a school would do lightly,” said Mark R. Dynarski, the director of the Center for Improving Research Evidence at Mathematica Policy Research, a Princeton, N.J., research organization.

Mr. Dynarski said the study was of high quality, though he cautioned against overinterpreting its results, given that it examines one particular product. The Mathematica official was the lead researcher on a 2007 federal study that found that no significant difference in standardized-test scores between students who used reading and math software products and those who didn’t. The federal study examined 15 commercial software products, though “I Can Learn” was not among them, Mr. Dynarski noted. (”Major Study on Software Stirs Debate,” April 11, 2007.)

This month, the federal What Works Clearinghouse, which Mr. Dynarski directs, reviewed the research on “I Can Learn” and found that it had “postive effects” on student achievement, The clearinghouse is an online resource overseen by the Institute of Education Sciences designed to vet the research on education programs.

One finding in the new study was not surprising, Mr. Dynarksi said: Students who have struggled academically or missed a lot of class time can benefit from a computerized program that allows them to catch up and make progress at their own pace.

“That’s a power of technology,” Mr. Dynarski said. “That is one of its real strengths.”

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Hispanic Math Students Show More Than Fifty Percent Gain in Scores in Florida

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I CAN Learn program allows differentiated methodology for high impact

Indiantown, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2009) – Math classes in a Martin County school are showing how an interactive software program not only improves math proficiency and test scores, but that it is also a critical teaching tool that has helped teachers become more effective in the classroom.
With courses in Pre-Algebra and Algebra, independent studies show the I CAN Learn (ICL) program significantly closes the achievement gap and raises test scores. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse gave the ICL Educational System its highest rating, citing “statistically significant” increases in its case studies.
In the drive to overhaul the public education system with the Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation funds, schools and school districts across the U.S. view ICL as a boost to school reform efforts.
Across Florida, 112 classrooms in 98 schools are currently using the program, and, at Indiantown Middle School, ICL has been helping raise math proficiency for nearly six years.
“We love I CAN Learn,” said Debbie Henderson, principal of Indiantown Middle. “It helps students become better at math and teachers become better teachers. Because of the success we’ve had with the program, our entire school uses the program, from accelerated 5th graders all the way to 8th graders.”

Indiantown Middle School is 80 percent Hispanic and about half of the students are ELL learners. Since implementing the program six years ago, Indiantown has raised the percent of students scoring at or above grade level in math from 38 percent in 2003 to 67 percent in 2009.

“With I CAN Learn, students complete each lesson and repeat it if necessary. You can’t put a teacher on rewind,” added Henderson. “ICL allows teachers to teach using differentiated methodology. It helps our teachers reach students who have previously not done well in math, ensures that gifted students can continue working without being held back by the need for multiple explanations and pushes the average student to always do better.”

ICL support manager Jean Sheridan continues to see steady progress in Florida, stating, “We designed I CAN Learn with the help of teachers who use it which is why it’s so effective and why we see improvements year after year.”

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Tennessee School Officials Seek to Expand Use of the I CAN Learn Program

Friday, December 11th, 2009

School officials in Tennesee seek to expand the use of the I CAN Learn Program in Maury County schools given its record of provess success. The following article appeared in the Nov. 17 2009 edition of The Daily Herald:

Schools plan software expansion

By SKYLER SWISHER
November 17, 2009

Columbia, Tenn. – Maury County schools are planning to expand the use of a software program that they say is extremely effective in helping to teach students algebra.

The school system wants the commission to allow it to use $231,075 in leftover funds to purchase computers, furniture and a software program called I CAN Learn.

All of the system’s eighth-graders started using the I CAN Learn program to learn algebra at the beginning of this year. Students receive electronic lessons and work problems at computer terminals with monitors and headphones.

“It really engages all students,” Director of Schools Eddie Hickman said. “It pushes them to improve.”

School officials say the program also allows instructors to spend more time working individually with students who are struggling. The money will be used to provide an I CAN Learn classroom at Central High School for students who need extra help in math, as well as funding a lab at Spring Hill Middle School.

Hickman said the district will not have data on the program’s effectiveness until the end of the year, but so far, teachers say it has been a success.

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Hillsborough County Working With Innovative Math Software Program for Improving Test Scores and Teacher Effectiveness

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

I CAN Learn interactive software program gaining momentum in classrooms nationwide

Hillsborough County, Fla. (Dec. 8, 2009) – Math classes in Hillsborough County are showing how an interactive software program not only improves math proficiency and test scores, but that it is also a critical teaching tool that has helped teachers become more effective in the classroom.

“We chose I CAN Learn because we know it’s effective,” said Janet Boatman, District Middle School Math Supervisor. “It gives the ability for students to work on a lesson at their own pace and we also use it for teacher training – a great program.”

Hillsborough County, recently awarded a $100 million teacher effectiveness grant, continues to show its commitment great teaching and improving math scores by partnering with I CAN Learn (ICL), an interactive software program that has reinvented math classrooms across the county.

With courses in Pre-Algebra and Algebra, independent studies show the ICL program significantly closes the achievement gap and raises test scores. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse gave the ICL Educational System its highest rating, citing “statistically significant” increases in its case studies.

In the drive to overhaul the public education system with the Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation funds, schools and school districts across the U.S. also view ICL as a boost to school reform efforts.

Across Florida, 112 classrooms in 98 schools are currently using the program, and, in Hillsborough County, ICL has been helping raise math proficiency through all of the middle and high schools.

Patricia Powell, a teacher at Buchanan Middle School in Tampa, who has taught math for 37 years has found her students have vastly improved in an I CAN Learn classroom.

“I love it,” said Powell. “I’d say 99 percent of the kids show improvement on state tests, and it’s a terrific tool for me to give me immediate data and feedback on each student’s progress.”

ICL support manager Jean Sheridan continues to see steady progress in Florida, stating, “We designed I CAN Learn with the help of teachers who use it which is why it’s so effective and why we see improvements year after year.”

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I CAN Learn Program adopted as Oklahoma textbook

Friday, December 4th, 2009

On Friday, Nov. 6, the I CAN Learn Program was officially adopted as a textbook in Oklahoma. We are proud to be recognized thusly by the state. Going into the new year, we hope to help more and more Oklahoma students master the math they need to move on to professional careers and college education.

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Tyrone Middle School Show Gains in Math Scores, Defy National Trend

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

I CAN Learn interactive software program gaining momentum in classrooms nationwide

St. Petersburg, Fla. (Dec.3, 2009) – Math classes at Tyrone Middle School are showing how an interactive software program not only improves math proficiency and test scores, but that it is also a critical teaching tool that has helped teachers become more effective in the classroom.

“We have seen our students’ FCAT test scores increase over the years through this program,” said Stephanie Adkinson, Principal at Tyrone. “In the last year alone, we have seen a large majority of our students increase their test scores, and we are hopeful that our students will continue to show academic gains in math, thanks to this program.”

Eighty-eight percent of Tyrone Middle School’s Level 1 students enrolled in the I CAN Learn math class have increased their test scores on the 2009 FCAT, while 62 percent of Level 2 students increased their math scores on the 2009 FCAT.

With courses in Pre-Algebra and Algebra, independent studies show the ICL program significantly closes the achievement gap and raises test scores. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse gave the ICL Educational System its highest rating, citing “statistically significant” increases in its case studies.

In the drive to overhaul the public education system with the Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation funds, schools and school districts across the U.S. also view ICL as a boost to school reform efforts. Across Florida, 112 classrooms in 98 schools are currently using the program.

ICL support manager Jean Sheridan continues to see steady progress in Florida, stating, “We designed I CAN Learn with the help of teachers who use it which is why it’s so effective and why we see improvements year after year.”

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