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Education Reporter

Technology Immersion — Study Finds 'No Positive Effects'
on Reading and Math Scores

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At a time when technology advocates seek more tax dollars to put a laptop computer in the hands of every child, the first-year results of a technology immersion pilot program have indicated "negative" or "no impact" on middle school reading and math achievement.

The results were published in Evaluation of the Texas Technology Immersion Pilot (April 2006), prepared for the Texas Education Agency (TEA) by the Texas Center for Educational Research (TCER). The goal of the separately funded TCER study was to "conduct a scientifically based evaluation at the state level to test the effectiveness of technology immersion in increasing middle school students' achievement in core academic subjects."

The $14 million federally funded Title II technology project was conducted using "high-need" students, generally in schools located in rural or isolated areas. Roughly 56% of the students were Hispanic and 9% African-American.

The TCER study said the Title II project they evaluated involved "a laptop computer for every middle school student and teacher, wireless access throughout the campus, on-line curricular and assessment resources, professional development and ongoing pedagogical support for curricular integration of technology resources, and technical support to maintain an immersed campus."

Lower scores 
While the purpose of technology immersion is to improve "middle school students' achievement in core academic subjects as measured by the state [Texas] assessment (TAKS)," the study found "that after one academic year of implementation, there were no positive effects of immersion on either reading or mathematics scores. . . . In fact, students in immersed schools had slightly lower scores than comparison students."

Intellectually less challenging 
The study also found that while teachers at the experimental pilot locations used technology more, "their lessons typically lack intellectual challenge":

"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."

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