Improving the Effectiveness of Digital Educational Tools in Increasing Student Achievement and Reducing Achievement Gaps

How can public schools use digital tools to reduce economic and racial inequalities in learning opportunities and student achievement?

Although public schools are making significant investments in digital educational tools, there is limited and mixed evidence to support claims that they are an effective strategy for reducing achievement gaps for low-income youth and students of color. The investigators will use a mixed methods approach to study the Milwaukee public school district’s efforts to integrate two widely used digital tools into instruction. The team hopes to identify conditions that support the use of technology as an effective instructional tool. Over a two-year period, the research team will conduct about 200 observations of students and teachers interacting with the digital tools and interview 60 district and instructional staff. The observations and interviews will be coded to identify conditions that facilitate quality implementation. The team will also link district administrative data on the characteristics of each school to student record data and to data from the digital tool vendors. The investigators will then examine the relationship between digital tool use and outcomes such as course completion, grades, and standardized test scores.

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