IXL contracted with SRI Education for an independent review of a quasi-experimental study they conducted: “Assessing the Impact of IXL Math over Three Years: A Quasi-Experimental Study.” The study author conducted a retrospective analysis to investigate the extent to which school use of IXL Math during a three-year period was associated with higher rates of proficiency on statewide assessments. SRI determined that this study provides moderate evidence for IXL Math efficacy in grades 3-8 over a three-year period according to the ESSA levels of evidence provided by the U.S. Department of Education guidelines.
This report describes the methodology of Apple and ConnectED Research, a six-year study of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative that uses a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods to tell a comprehensive story of implementation and outcomes.
This report describes the research design of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative, beginning with discussions of the theory of change and the conceptual framework that ground the research and an introduction to the Apple and ConnectED Initiative on which the research focuses. The report then describes the research design and methodology, which employ complementary substudies to create research that is both broad and deep. The substudies include:
Surveys of teachers, principals, and students
Case studies of selected schools
Analysis of lessons and student work to determine opportunities for deeper learning
A student achievement study that uses state test data to investigate student learning outcomes
This report is intended for researchers and other technical audiences interested in understanding the methodological details that underly the Apple and ConnectED Research study. It complements a series of reports that present study results and discuss findings.
Through the lens of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative, this report asks the questions, what does a promising start look like when you add technology to education and what types of support can enable conditions for success?
Technology, such as iPad™ devices for students and teachers, has the potential to energize classrooms and bring substantially new types of learning opportunities to children of all ages. These changes are not an automatic result of adding technology to education, and they often take place over a long period of time. This report asks the questions, what does a promising start look like and what types of support can enable conditions for success?
We ask these questions through the lens of the Apple and ConnectED Initiative, which has been the focus of a rigorous 6-year research study. Launched in 2014, the Apple and ConnectED Initiative has supported 114 participating schools across the country with an iPad for every student. Schools received a host of programmatic supports including extensive professional learning opportunities for teachers and leaders, technology infrastructure upgrades, and process management.
The initiative and this research are explicitly situated in a diversity of traditionally under-resourced communities, with schools ranging from pre-K to secondary and from the inner city to rural migrant communities to Native American villages. This report focuses on the first year of iPad use across these schools to describe the initial changes that might be expected to appear when sufficient support is in place to lower common barriers to its adoption.
The report describes early implementation in three successive stages:
Access: Many of the ConnectED schools saw daily iPad use across multiple subjects, even early in implementation. This level of use was facilitated by strategic and technical preparation prior to the introduction of the iPad devices, coupled with initial strategies for their instructional application. Daily widespread use demonstrated how universal technology access has the potential to “level the playing field” and broaden students’ horizons.
Integration: In classrooms where iPad use had become the norm, the learning environments looked different from those in typical classroom settings. In particular, iPad classrooms leveraged immediate access to rich information, offered new opportunities for expression, used technology to increase student engagement, and benefited from more organized and efficient workflows.
Innovation: In addition to more active and engaging learning environments, technology is often seen as holding promise to facilitate meaningful changes to students’ opportunities for learning. This study uses a framework for “deeper learning” to describe emerging opportunities for teamwork, critical thinking, and other skills that prepare students for success beyond the classroom. Teacher surveys and a review of lesson plans reveal some initial steps toward deeper learning for a broad range of teachers, particularly in the dimensions of personalization and communication/creation that were most directly enabled by the affordances of the new iPad devices. More advanced opportunities require careful and creative lesson planning, and were most likely to be seen in the classrooms of teachers who held deeper learning as an explicit goal.
The research and evaluation of ATD’s OER Degree Initiative provided encouraging evidence regarding the academic outcomes of students who enrolled in multiple OER courses, the economic impacts for both students and institutions, and the experiences of key stakeholders. Students benefitted from unrestricted access to course content and improved course experiences, in addition to saving money that could be used towards other educational or personal expenses.
Overall, the OER Degree Initiative offers an important demonstration of the opportunity, the task, and the challenges of a systemic approach to OER.
The Virginia Department of Education’s Virtual Virginia (VVA) program delivers more than 90 supplemental online courses to more than 10,000 middle and high school students each year. The department partnered with Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia to examine the relationship between students’ participation in a subset of 31 VVA online courses and their performance on end-of-course Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) and Advanced Placement (AP) exams during the 2015/16 and 2016/17 school years. Relying on administrative records available through the Virginia Longitudinal Data System, REL Appalachia researchers conducted descriptive analyses and regression analyses with statistical controls. After controlling for demographic and prior achievement differences, students in face-to-face courses were more likely to score higher and demonstrate proficiency on SOL and AP exams than students taking the same courses through VVA across most subject areas. Because the study design was correlational, additional research is needed to determine whether the difference in performance is due to the characteristics of the students in online courses, aspects of the VVA program itself, or some other factor such as students’ reasons for enrolling in the course or the supports available in their local schools.
Participant Experiences and Financial Impacts: Findings from Year 2 of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative
This report presents findings from Achieving the Dream’s Open Education Resources (OER) Degree Initiative, which helps colleges reduce the financial burden on students and improve curriculum and pedagogy by developing course pathways using free and openly licensed instructional materials.
Launching OER Degree Pathways: An Early Snapshot of Achieving the Dream’s OER Degree Initiative and Emerging Lessons
The Open Educational Resources (OER) Degree Initiative, led by Achieving the Dream (ATD), seeks to boost college access and student success by supporting the redesign of courses needed for a degree using OER in place of proprietary instructional materials. ATD’s programs aim to help community colleges throughout the United States increase student success through data-informed decision-making and holistic institutional change. For ATD, the initiative is an opportunity to scale an innovative approach throughout the community college sector with special attention to the colleges that are integrating OER degrees into their overall student success strategy. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation, the Shelter Hill Foundation, and the Speedwell Foundation together provided funding for 38 community colleges across 13 states to build entire degree programs using OER.
On behalf of the National Science Board (NSB), the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) produces Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI), a biennial compendium of quantitative data on U.S. and international science and engineering education and productivity. Each SEI report is accompanied by companion pieces in which the NSB focuses on trends that raise important policy concerns.
In 2011, the National Research Council (NRC) released the report Successful K-12 STEM Education, which made recommendations for improvement in the areas of students’ access to STEM learning, educators’ capacity, and funding and policy initiatives. In 2013, a second NRC committee released the report Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 Education: A Nation Advancing? calling for a national indicator system that could be used by both policymakers and practitioners to improve STEM education. The report lists 14 Indicators that, if measured regularly, could catalyze improvement. This call has gained policymakers’ attention at the highest levels, with Congress directing NSF to begin implementing a progress monitoring system for the indicators. However, some of the Indicators require further conceptual work and preliminary research before a data collection plan can be solidified.
SRI Education, a division of SRI International, is supporting NSF by developing a road map for measuring and reporting on the 14 Indicators. SRI is compiling data on each indicator where available and recommending an agenda to support the collection of enhanced data in the future. The purpose of these activities is to enable the NSB Committee on Science and Engineering Indicators to consider and approve companion reports for upcoming SEI reports addressing the Indicators.
Khan Academy is working closely with schools to explore ways of transforming how instruction is organized, delivered, and experienced by both students and teachers. SRI Education’s two-year study involved nine sites, 20 schools, and more than 70 teachers to investigate Khan Academy’s use as a supplemental educational resource in the classroom.