Did you know that, according to a recent RAND Corporation and U.S. Department of Education (US DOE), only 35% of eight-graders demonstrated basic mathematical proficiency or higher? To us at Wowzers, that screams that something needs to be done.
Two-year study seeks to answer common Blended Learning question
The folks at RAND and the US DOE thought so too, and decided to put one of the most common EdTech claims to the test: Does Blended Learning increase test scores? Per a recent Information Week article, the two entities developed a two-year study to test whether middle school and high school algebra classes learning via a mixture of online math learning software and offline instruction would score better or worse on standardized math tests.
The studys results were very interesting, but before we get to those, lets expand a little bit on what the large study involved. Taking place over a two-year period, the study involved 18,000 students in 147 diverse schools located across seven different states.
Within these schools, there were two groups, a control group learning five days-a-week via normal classroom-based math instruction and an experimental group, spending two days a week using math software designed to give feedback to help students better solve multi-step problems (linear equations, linear and quadratic expressions, proportional reasoning, data analysis, etc.) and three days expanding their understanding via one-to-one instruction, project-based learning activities, and group work/discussion.
The results are in... and theyre promising
Interestingly, there were no significant results of improvement or drop-off between the two groups during the first year of the study. However, in the second year, things seemed to really take off. According to the study, students in the Blended Learning group saw large jumps in proficiency. To put it in perspective, the Education Week article likens the gains to a high-school student jumping from a score in the 50th percentile in one year to a score in the 58th percentile in the next.
Simply put, that is a massive gain in scoring that almost any school or district would be thrilled with. However, per the article, RAND was quick to note that there is no definitive evidence to determine whether the gains were directly related to the math software or the blended learning program structure.
Obviously, the studys findings will not end the debate on whether blended learning has true educational value, but it is certainly positive news for our students and schools. To learn more about the study, be sure to read the full Education Week article by clicking the link below:
Update: Here's another great resource from Digital Learning Now! regarding the study.