Schools are spending billions on digital tools. Students have little to show for it.


Yet there’s little evidence that this technology improves student performance — and excessive use may even have negative effects. A 2015 study of 38 countries found that those that made large investments in educational technology showed “no appreciable improvements in student achievement” on international assessments of math, science and reading.

In the U.S., fourth graders who reported using digital devices in most or all of their classes did worse on reading tests than students who used them in less than half their classes. Similarly, eighth-grade students who used a computer every day for math scored four points lower on the National Assessment of Educational Progress than those who did so only once or twice a year. To the extent technology plays a productive role, research shows it’s far more helpful for students in high school and beyond than for grade-schoolers. But even for older students, the mere presence of devices in the classroom can divide their attention and worsen their long-term performance.

As is true in every aspect of schooling, teacher engagement is critical to realizing ed-tech’s potential. But in the U.S., only 40% of K-12 teachers say that they’ve received effective training on how to use such tools. More than one-third say that they never use the digital products or devices their school districts give them; an additional 30% say they’re unaware if they even have such technology at their disposal. That disconnect is costly: One analysis found that as much as 67% of software licenses purchased by schools go unused, which amounts to $5.6 billion in annual waste.


“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Why are Madison’s Students Struggling to Read?