Study reveals elementary math gains

June 8th, 2016

math dreambox

Study of grades 3-5 students showed improved math achievement with personalized learning approach

A research study from the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University demonstrates a link between an adaptive learning program and improvement in mathematics achievement for students in grades 3-5.

The study examined Dreambox Learning and the individual test scores of nearly 3,000 students in grades 3-5 during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years in two districts, Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) in Maryland and Rocketship Education in California. Results of the study determined that DreamBox usage was significantly associated with increased student achievement when controlling for students’ baseline test scores.

Student achievement was measured using scores on the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) mathematics assessments, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) mathematics assessments, and state assessments for Maryland and California. These districts represent culturally and economically diverse demographics, and the research findings solidify DreamBox’s belief that with the right tools and support, all children can succeed and pursue rewarding subjects, including math.

“We saw positive relationships between the amount of student [DreamBox] usage and the magnitude of student achievement gains on state tests and interim assessments in both sites,” Harvard researchers wrote. For example, “In HCPSS, the student who started the year at the 50th percentile, and who used DreamBox at the average level of 7.1 hours, could expect to be between the 54th and 55th percentile on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test at the end of 2014-15.” According to the researchers, analyses “suggest this relationship is linear and that achievement gains continue to rise at the same rate as DreamBox usage increases.”

DreamBox uses Intelligent Adaptive Learning™ technology and innovative digital content that engages students with rigorous mathematics, facilitates exploration, and builds understanding, confidence and support through real-time formative feedback. Results of the study revealed that the average student in a classroom using DreamBox improved nearly 4 percentile points on NWEA MAP assessments after only 14 hours of DreamBox usage.

Although DreamBox recommends 60-90 minutes on the program for each student each week, this study also revealed that even when students spent less time using DreamBox, that time was positively correlated with student achievement.

“We’re dedicated to the success of each unique student and are committed to continually studying the effectiveness of DreamBox in terms of measurable impact on individual learners,” said Dr. Tim Hudson, vice president of learning at DreamBox Learning. “The strength of these predictive correlations is reinforced by the fact that this study analyzed the individual pre- and post-test scores of thousands of students, regardless of how much of the DreamBox curriculum they had completed. Because we want to be strong partners who complement the work of schools and teachers, we’re proud to see these new, compelling results in the upper elementary grades.”

For more information on the results of the study, or to review the complete report, visit

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Material from a press release was used in this report.