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$14 Million Study Proves Student Laptops Ineffective Academically

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  • Leonie Haimson
    Another in a long line of studies showing no learning benefits from providing students w/ laptops. And yet states and districts continue to adopt such
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 18, 2006
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      Another in a long line of studies showing no learning benefits from providing students w/ laptops.  And yet states and districts continue to adopt such policies. 

      DOE initially proposed giving laptops to every public school student, and this was part of their CFE plan; now the laptop initiative seems to have been cut back, but the spending on technology increased in the current capital plan to over $1 billion.

      This particular study, funded by the US DOE to evaluate a Texas middle school laptop program, concludes:

      “We found that after one academic year of implementation, there were no positive effects of immersion on either reading or mathematics scores. After controlling for prior achievement and other important student characteristics, there were no significant differences in the spring 2005 reading or mathematics TAKS scores of students in immersed and control schools. In fact, students in immersed schools had slightly lower scores than comparison students. “ 

      Here are links to the full study:  http://www.txtip.info/projectevaluation.html

      http://www.txtip.info/images/06.05.06_eTxTIP_Year_1_Report.pdf

      The program included not just laptops for each student, but extensive training programs for their teachers. 

      Below is a summary by laptop critic Donna Garner, followed by excerpts from the study itself.  As the study points out, this is only the first year evaluation, with more years to follow.

      Leonie Haimson

      Class Size Matters

      124 Waverly Pl.

      New York, NY 10011

      212-674-7320

      leonie@...

      www.classsizematters.org

       

      "$14 Million Study Proves Student Laptops Ineffective Academically"
      Saturday, July 15, 2006
      by Donna Garner

      Our country has been waiting for a scientifically conducted study on laptops.  Now we have it.  Presented below are excerpts from the $14 Million Texas Technology Immersion Pilot (April 2006 report -- funded by the U. S. Department of Education) which is supposed to prove whether student immersion on laptops by middle-school students will raise their academic achievement.  So far as I know, this study is one of a kind and is much needed since technology companies are pushing their laptops into classrooms through aggressive marketing tactics. 

      No expense was spared in this study. The 22 Texas schools which participated were given the best technology available, and their staffs were extensively trained. "Package costs ranged from about $1,100 to $1,600 per student. Of the 22 immersion sites, 6 middle schools selected the Apple package, 15 selected the Dell package, and 1 school selected the Region 1 ESC package (Dell computer)."  As stated in the report, "Technology immersion encompasses multiple components, including a laptop computer for every middle school student and teacher, wireless access throughout the campus, online curricular and assessment resources, professional development and ongoing pedagogical support for curricular integration of technology resources, and technical support to maintain an immersed campus."

      To find out the results after the first year, please read the following comments which have been taken directly from the newly released April 2006 report.  I will give you a clue: The technology companies won't like the results. 

      Also, please read the comments which I wrote on August 3, 2005, when our Texas legislature was running hell-bent to push laptops on every student and teacher in Texas at an estimated price tag of $3 Billion. The leader of that political movement was Rep. Ken t Grusendorf, and thankfully he was unsuccessful in his attempt to force laptops on our Texas schools.  He also was unsuccessful in his attempt to get re-elected last November to the Texas House. 

      For those of you who have questioned the huge expenditures of time and effort to bring laptops into your local school districts, this study will give you scientifically based evidence to prove that everyone needs to step back and take a hard look at the educational value of student laptops.  I think it is particularly interesting that the authors of the study stated, "... there were no positive effects on students' personal self-directed learning, and based on classroom observations, the availability of laptops did not lead to significantly greater opportunities for students to experience intellectually challenging lessons or to do more challenging school work."

      Donna Garner
      wgarner1@...

      EVALUATION OF THE TEXAS T ECHNOLOGY IMMERSION PILOT
      First-Year Results
      April 2006

      Prepared for Texas Education Agency

      Prepared by: Texas Center for Educational Research
      ©Texas Center for Educational Research
      Research funded by the U. S. Department of Education

      Excerpt from this study:

      We found that after one academic year of implementation, there were no positive effects of immersion on either reading or mathematics scores. After controlling for prior achievement and other important student characteristics, there were no significant differences in the spring 2005 reading or mathematics TAKS  scores of students in immersed and control schools. In fact, students in immersed schools had slightly lower scores than comparison students.

      http://www.txtip.info/projectevaluation.html

      http://www.txtip.info/images/06.05.06_eTxTIP_Year_1_Report.pdf

      Effects of Immersion on Academic Achievement

      There was no significant effect of technology immersion on sixth graders achievement in reading or mathematics. The ultimate goal of technology immersion is increasing middle school students' achievement in core academic subjects as measured by the state assessment (TAKS). In Texas , sixth graders complete TAKS assessments for reading and mathematics. We found that after one academic year of implementation, there were no positive effects of immersion on either reading or mathematics scores. After controlling for prior achievement and other important student characteristics, there were no significant differences in the spring 2005 reading or mathematics TAKS  scores of students in immersed and control schools. In fact, students in immersed schools had slightly lower scores than comparison students.

      Several factors help to explain the discontinuity between the many positive effects noted for schools, teachers, and students at immersed campuses and the absence of a positive effect on student achievement outcomes. First, implementation fidelity was an important factor. Limited project implementation almost certainly influenced outcomes (e.g., the small number of days that students actually had laptops, the minimal use of digital resources). In our theoretical model, we hypothesized that students in fully immersed schools would experience school and classroom environments that would lead to changes in students, which in turn, would lead to increased achievement. While we found noteworthy improvements in some areas (e.g., changes in teacher proficiency and technology use, improvements in students' proficiency and school engagement), there were no positive effects on students' personal self-directed learning, and based on classroom observations, the availability of laptops did not lead to significantly greater opportunities for students to experience intellectually challenging lessons or to do more challenging school work.

      Furthermore, although technology use increased in the first year and surpassed control schools, laptops were used infrequently for learning in core subject classes, especially mathematics . Using laptops for lessons once or twice a week, or once or twice a month in math classes, may be insufficient to make a difference in achievement. Unfortunately, students in Texas middle schools do not complete social studies assessment until eighth grade or a science assessment until tenth grade, so we did not have academic outcome measures for those content areas.

      It is also important to remember that this is a longitudinal study , and while we expected that some impacts might emerge in the first year, it was also considered likely that changes in student academic performance would require more than one year to surface. Additionally, the findings reported here represent only a first step in analyzing first-year data. Additional analyses will further examine the relationships among school, teacher, and student mediating variables and academic achievement. We also intend to delve more deeply into the relationships among the fidelity of implementation, mediating variables, and outcomes

       

       

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