Thursday, July 31, 2008

Computer use, low math achievement, and digital equity

My school district uses Carnegie Learning software for math remediation and credit recovery. The State of Alaska even purchased a state-wide license for Carnegie's Algebra I curriculum.

I'm a good company man and I'll use whatever software my district provides. In the past 10 years, I've used Accelerated Math, Larson Math, Plato, and Apex.

As a classroom teacher, I get a close-up view of computer-based math learning programs. But I don't often get the state-wide and nationwide perspective. That's where Educational Insanity comes in.

Jon Becker ran series of articles that explored NAEP Data on computer use, race, and math test scores. Here's what he found.

From Computer use and (lower?) math achievement:
This is 4th graders, 2007, and, yes…the score for the group of students who report daily or almost daily use of computers at school for math is (statistically significantly) lower than all of the other groups.

From Computer use and math achievement (part deux) regarding 8th grade results:
The group of students who never or hardly ever use computers score significantly higher than the other groups, across all applications.

From Drill & Kill and Digital Equity:
Overall, African-American students are much more likely to use computers to practice or drill on math facts than White students. Given the significant achievement gap that exists, these differences partly explain why, overall, the there is a negative correlation between using computers to practice or drill on math facts and math achievement. I can’t be entirely sure about the degree to which race confounds that overall relationship without access to the raw (restricted-use) NAEP data.


Jon Becker said...

Glad I could inform your thinking. I respect that you're a good company man, but perhaps there's a way to inform those who make decisions about technology funding about the problems with integrated learning systems? I don't know Alaska well (or at all), but I'm guessing there are better, more progressive ways to use the technology, such as using the Web to learn in collaboration with students in the other 49 states?

I love that you're reflective about your work.

andrewcknoll said...

A personal note: My son is a minority (Native Alaskan) who uses a math support program 180 days per year at school.

FWIW, he likes the program and works really hard at it. It's an extra hour in addition to his regular math class.

@Jon I respect your experience in educational data analysis and I'll definitely share your findings with appropriate folks in my district. You are welcome in my little corner of the internet anytime.