blog posts and news stories

Reports Released on the Effect of Carnegie Learning’s Cognitive Tutor

The Maui School District has released results from a study of the effect of Carnegie Learning’s Cognitive Tutor (CT) on long-term course selections and grade performance. Building upon two previous randomized experiments on the impact of CT on student achievement in Algebra I and Pre–algebra, the study followed the same groups of students in the year following their exposure to CT. The research did not find evidence of an impact of CT on either course selection or course grade performance for students in the following school year. The study also found no evidence that variation among ethnicities in both the difficulty of course taken and course grade received depended on exposure to CT.

A concurrent study was conducted on the successes and challenges of program implementation with the teachers involved in the previous CT studies. The study took into account teachers’ levels of use and length of exposure to CT; the descriptive data comprised surveys, classroom observations, and interviews. The major challenges to implementation included a lack of access to resources, limited support for technology, and other technological difficulties. After 3 years of implementation, teachers reported that these initial barriers had been resolved; however teachers have yet to establish a fully collaborative classroom environment, as described in the Carnegie Learning implementation model.

Maui School District is the company’s first MeasureResults subscriber. A similar research initiative is being conducted at the community college level with The Maui Educational Consortium. The report for this study will be announced later this year.


Maui Community College Hires Empirical Education for an Evaluation of NSF-Funded Project

In Hawaii, Ho’okahua means “to lay a foundation”. Focusing on Hawaiian students over multiple years, the Ho’okahua Project aims to increase the number of Maui Community College (MCC) students entering, persisting, and succeeding in college level science, mathematics, and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degree programs. Several strategies have already been implemented, including a bridge program with the high schools from which the MCC student community is largely drawn.

The Maui Educational Consortium provides leadership for this work and has been instrumental in a number of other initiatives for increasing the capacity to achieve their goals. For example, the implementation of Cognitive Tutor for Algebra 1 was the subject of a related Empirical Education randomized experiment. Another important capacity fostered by the Educational Consortium, working with the University of Hawai’i Office of the State Director for Career and Technical Education, is an initiative called HI-PASS, which aggregates student data across high school and community college. Initially in its evaluation, Empirical Education will be using information on math courses developed through the HI-PASS project to follow the success of students from the earlier study.


Report Released on the Effectiveness of Carnegie Learning’s Bridge to Algebra

Empirical Education released the results of a year-long randomized experiment on the comparative effectiveness of Carnegie Learning’s Bridge to Algebra program. This study, like that on Carnegie Learning’s Cognitive Tutor for Algebra (see news for May 24, 2007), was conducted in cooperation with the Maui School District in Hawai’i and funded through a grant to Empirical Education from the U.S. Department of Education. The experiment could not discern an overall difference between the program and control group measured by either NWEA’s test for general math or the test’s algebraic operations subscale. However, for the algebraic operations outcomes (but not for general math), we found that students scoring low before participating in Bridge to Algebra benefited significantly more from the program’s algebraic operations instruction than did students with high initial scores. The district was specifically interested in looking at how the different ethnic groups, particularly the Hawaiian/Part-Hawaiian and Filipino students, performed in the new program. Controlling for pretest, we did not find that the program had a different effect for different ethnicities. The district was also interested in learning whether the program was differentially effective for students taught by certified teachers versus those with non–certified teachers. For the overall score (but not the algebraic operations sub-strand), we found that the program gave the non–certified teachers an advantage. Finally, despite some implementation challenges, teachers reported a generally positive attitude toward the new program.