The study found that almost all of the improvement was reflected in increases in students scoring advanced, not merely proficient, on the tests. Students in those classes using ST Math exhibited advanced CST math scores at a rate that was, on average, 5.6 percentage points higher than others.

“It’s now a given in education that we will somehow put digital devices into the hands of every K-12 student in every classroom in America, yet people still wonder if technology can actually improve student learning at scale, and there is a dearth of research in this area,” said Andrew R. Coulson, chief strategist at MIND Research Institute. “This report provides compelling evidence that technology indeed helps students learn and, importantly, show results on high stakes assessments – at least if you have a pedagogically effective approach, properly designed software, and teacher support for faithful implementation.”

The ST Math program exemplifies a blended learning approach, which not only has students use computerized math lessons, but makes the teacher the central hub of the digital learning ecosystem.

Teachers received training on how to use ST Math to supplement their core curriculum and connect the visual puzzles students encountered on the computer to the math concepts and standards they were teaching in their classroom lessons. Additionally, schools received year-round support from MIND’s educational consultants.

The WestEd study measured the impact of ST Math using a statistical term called “effect size,” which is basically a measurement of how strong an impact of an input (in this case ST Math implementation) has on an outcome (such as test scores). The larger the effect size, the greater the impact. WestEd found ST Math’s effect size across the grades in California to be 0.47 – well beyond the federal What Works Clearinghouse criteria of 0.25 for “substantively important” effect. The What Works Clearinghouse, part of the Institute of Education Sciences, gives educators information about what education programs, practices, products and policies actually work. “We have to move beyond educational technology just being innovative and exciting, it needs to demonstrate a measurable impact on student learning and ST Math continues to do just that,” said Edie Fraser, CEO of STEMconnector. “Showing results that increase advanced math proficiency is especially important, as employers are seeking more and more graduates with strong skills in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math.”

The WestEd analysis, which adhered to federal What Works Clearinghouse specifications, reinforces and expands the findings of an earlier WestEd study focusing specifically on ST Math usage in Los Angeles Unified School District. In that study of high-need L.A. schools, the effect size of ST Math implementation was 0.41.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura