In April, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) set off a firestorm in the ed-tech community when it released a report showing that the use of certain software programs to help teach reading and math in some 439 classrooms did not lead to higher test scores after a year of implementation. (See ED study slams software efficacy.)

Read the report, and it's easy to see why: Average use of the programs accounted for only about 10 or 11 percent of the total instructional time for the entire school year--well below what the products were designed for. But...

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