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1999 Achievement Gains from a Statewide Comprehensive Instructional Technology Program 1999: What impact does technology have on learning?

Date: 1999
Author(s): Dale Mann, Ph.D., Charol Shakeshaft, Ph.D., Jonathan Becker, J.D., Robert Kottkamp, Ph.D.
Affiliation: West Virginia Department of Education, the Milken Exchange on Education Technology, and Interactive Incorporated
Keywords: student achievement, gender, low income, teacher training


In 1990, the state of West Virginia implemented its Basic Skills/Computer Education program. This study-- a collaborative investigation by the West Virginia Department of Education, the Milken Exchange on Education Technology, and Interactive Incorporated-- found that the program has had a measurable positive impact on learning. West Virginia has seen across-the-board increases in statewide assessment scores in all basic skill areas, and students' NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores have risen. The study also attributes eleven percent of West Virginia's increase in mathematics and language arts scores to the computer interventions.

The study marks the first time that a long-term statewide learning technology program has been assessed for its effectiveness. The researchers examined West Virginia's Basic Skills/Computer Education (BS/CE) program, whose objective was to use the computer as a tool for improving the basic skills and to provide comprehensive teacher training on utilizing computers in the classroom. The program's ten-year history makes it the nation's longest-running state program for the implementation of technology in education.

Key Findings:

* A significant aspect of the study was that the educational gains achieved by West Virginia's learning technology program proved to be cost-effective. In fact, an analysis of effect sizes conducted by Dr. Lew Solmon, senior vice president and senior scholar of the Milken Family Foundation, revealed that the implementation of learning technology was significantly more efficient than other popular interventions such as class size reduction.

* West Virginia's technology program also increased socio-economic and gender equity. The Milken Exchange study found the state's BS/CE program to be highly successful in equalizing opportunity for low-income and rural students, and revealed that the greatest improvement in total basic skills was achieved by children without computers at home.

* West Virginia's program was also found to be effective in providing girls-- widely reported to be at a disadvantage in learning technology programs-- with equal access to computers; as a result, computer use was equal among boys and girls.

The study identifies several reasons West Virginia's program is effective:

* Rather than isolating computer skills from academic learning, West Virginia's BS/CE program integrated technology into the instructional program. In other words, the technology was a means of learning the basics, not an end in itself.

* The report revealed that the computers inside classrooms were more effective than centralized computer labs in producing basic skill gains in students and in promoting the confidence and technological competence of teachers.

* The report also revealed the importance of timely and comprehensive teacher training as a key factor in the success of West Virginia's technology program.

Source Article: http://www.mff.org/publications/publications.taf?page=156