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Study reveals factors in ed-tech success

Results reveal that one-to-one computing programs can have a big impact on achievement if properly implemented

 

When properly implemented, technology can have a positive impact on student achievement.

If schools can afford to make only one key investment in education technology, it should be infusing their intervention classes with technology, the study suggests.

 

Schools with one-to-one computing programs have fewer discipline problems, lower dropout rates, and higher rates of college attendance than schools with a higher ratio of students to computers, according to the results of a major new study. But for one-to-one programs to boost student achievement as well, they must be properly implemented, the study found.

Sixty-nine percent of the schools in the study reported that their students’ achievement scores on high-stakes tests were on the rise. Among schools with 1-to-1 computing programs, that figure was 70 percent. But it was 85 percent for schools with 1-to-1 computing programs that employed certain strategies for success, including electronic formative assessments on a regular basis and frequent collaboration of teachers in professional learning communities.

The findings come from Project RED (Revolutionizing Education), a national initiative that aims to prove that when properly implemented, investing in technology can boost student achievement and will result in monetary savings for schools and local governments. The survey results will be revealed June 28 at the annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference [Editor's Note: For more live coverage of this year's ISTE conference, go to: http://www.eschoolnews.com/events/conferences/necciste/].

The study is believed to be the largest full-scale look at how technology is being used in schools, and what factors lead to the greatest success in education technology.

Researchers surveyed nearly a thousand schools with diverse student populations and varying levels of technology integration. Using a regressive model of statistical analysis, they correlated 11 measures of success (such as dropout rates, discipline rates, and student achievement scores) with more than 100 independent variables across 22 categories to determine which factors had the biggest impact on success.

Results indicate that schools properly implementing 1-to-1 programs achieve more educational success than schools with higher student-to-computer ratios.

“In our practice, we see how personalization and individualization of instruction work best when students have 100-percent access to a computing device,” said Leslie Wilson, president of the One-to-One Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on professional development for technology integration and a co-author of the study.

Leadership and vision are two essential components in technology implementation, the study found, and while all schools can benefit from technology, the study shows that “when principals receive specializing training and technology [is] properly implemented, the benefits increase even more,” according to Project RED.

In fact, a strong principal and strong district leadership are among the most important variables when it comes to implementing education technology and transforming schools, which suggests that change management training is especially important for principals involved in large-scale technology implementations.

“It seems that when the whole rest of the world is using technology to enhance processes, in education we’re not getting that traction, [and it is] particularly frustrating,” said Eileen Lento, education strategist for Intel. “It’s clear now that we have to improve educational outcomes, and in some cases we can’t do that without technology.”

Implementation factors

“The most exciting findings were identification of which implementation factors improve learning outcomes,” said Tom Greaves, CEO of the Greaves Group and founder of the initiative.

Daily technology use in core subject-area classes, frequent technology use in intervention courses, and a low student-to-computer ratio were found to play a critical role in reducing dropout rates, the study reveals. Principal leadership and training also were important factors.

“Students in reading intervention, special education, [and] Title 1 [programs] … benefit from the individualized instruction that technology can provide best,” according to Project RED.

In fact, if schools can afford to make only one key investment in education technology, it should be infusing their intervention classes with technology, the study results suggest. Technology-infused intervention programs were the top predictor for improved high-stakes test scores, lower dropout rates, and improved discipline, Project RED said. The only other top predictor for more than one measure of educational success was a low student-to-computer ratio.

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Comments:

  1. crschmiesing

    June 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I will admit that I have not fully read this article, but have serious concerns when the group doing research (Project RED) has a vested interest in the outcome. According to the article, the stated goal of Project RED is “to prove that when properly implemented investing in technology can boost student achievement and will result in monetary savings for schools and local governments.”

    That’s like ESPN doing a study to show the importance of sports — of course they do.

    More importantly, have 1-to-1 computers is more likely correlated to the wealth of the school district and, in turn, the wealth of the families in the school district. If a student is from a wealthy family, do they have fewer discipline problems, lower dropout rates, and higher rates of college attendance? I bet so.

    Also, notice the difference is just 1% (“Sixty-nine percent of the schools in the study reported that their students’ achievement scores on high-stakes tests were on the rise. Among schools with 1-to-1 computing programs, that figure was 70 percent”).

    I’m guessing that 1% is within the margin of error.

  2. crschmiesing

    June 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I will admit that I have not fully read this article, but have serious concerns when the group doing research (Project RED) has a vested interest in the outcome. According to the article, the stated goal of Project RED is “to prove that when properly implemented investing in technology can boost student achievement and will result in monetary savings for schools and local governments.”

    That’s like ESPN doing a study to show the importance of sports — of course they do.

    More importantly, have 1-to-1 computers is more likely correlated to the wealth of the school district and, in turn, the wealth of the families in the school district. If a student is from a wealthy family, do they have fewer discipline problems, lower dropout rates, and higher rates of college attendance? I bet so.

    Also, notice the difference is just 1% (“Sixty-nine percent of the schools in the study reported that their students’ achievement scores on high-stakes tests were on the rise. Among schools with 1-to-1 computing programs, that figure was 70 percent”).

    I’m guessing that 1% is within the margin of error.

  3. suzannearrand

    June 29, 2010 at 8:18 am

    I would like to hear more about how schools were “matched” in this study. Seems to me that a school in a community with better educated parents or higher incomes would be able to better afford the 1 to 1 computer ratio. Those two factors alone could account for much of the improvements that the schools are experiencing.

  4. suzannearrand

    June 29, 2010 at 8:18 am

    I would like to hear more about how schools were “matched” in this study. Seems to me that a school in a community with better educated parents or higher incomes would be able to better afford the 1 to 1 computer ratio. Those two factors alone could account for much of the improvements that the schools are experiencing.

  5. Dpierce

    June 30, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Crschmiesing, your points about the agenda of the study’s authors and the possible influence of other factors, such as the relative wealth of the districts in question, are good ones–although I don’t think it’s safe to assume that only wealthy districts can have 1-to-1 computing programs.

    But your argument about the 1% difference is a misreading of the story. That’s actually the point: that there is no statistical difference in achievement between all schools and 1-to-1 schools, UNLESS the technology is implemented effectively–in which case there was a 15- to 16-percentage point difference.

  6. Dpierce

    June 30, 2010 at 12:31 am

    Crschmiesing, your points about the agenda of the study’s authors and the possible influence of other factors, such as the relative wealth of the districts in question, are good ones–although I don’t think it’s safe to assume that only wealthy districts can have 1-to-1 computing programs.

    But your argument about the 1% difference is a misreading of the story. That’s actually the point: that there is no statistical difference in achievement between all schools and 1-to-1 schools, UNLESS the technology is implemented effectively–in which case there was a 15- to 16-percentage point difference.

  7. jhayes415

    July 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    A positive bias in favor of technology does not necessarily contaminate the results. The study’s authors were surprised by many of the findings themselves. They followed pretty standard research practices and wlll be happy to share the process with those who would like more information..

    in addition, we have shared some demographics about the 1:1 schools in the study, that suggest quite a different picture of the relative affluence of 1:1 schools than common wisdom. Stay tuned./ Jeanne Hayes co-Author

  8. jhayes415

    July 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    A positive bias in favor of technology does not necessarily contaminate the results. The study’s authors were surprised by many of the findings themselves. They followed pretty standard research practices and wlll be happy to share the process with those who would like more information..

    in addition, we have shared some demographics about the 1:1 schools in the study, that suggest quite a different picture of the relative affluence of 1:1 schools than common wisdom. Stay tuned./ Jeanne Hayes co-Author


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