EDC today released an independent evaluation of IBM’s Reinventing Education Program which indicates that investments in educational technology are yielding gains in student performance, teaching quality, and school management. The three-year study was conducted by EDC’s Center for Children and Technology (CCT) based in New York City.
The findings of the report indicate that IBM’s $45-million Reinventing Education Program, first launched in 1994, has produced a range of school improvements, including significant performance gains for students in grades 7 through 11. The initiative has also helped states and school districts strengthen teaching skills and improve school organization and management, according to the report.
“This report confirms that technology can be a critical component of education reform—when it is used strategically,” explains Bob Spielvogel, principal author of the EDC study. “We know that simply putting computers into schools doesn’t work. Reinventing Education goes far beyond technology and engages researchers, corporate managers, and educators in a long-term partnership, committed to serious sustained collaboration to improve schools. This makes it a unique initiative among the efforts to reform education.” The findings of the Reinventing Education Program evaluation are consistent with several additional studies CCT and others have conducted on the relationship between technology and learning, according to Spielvogel.
Reinventing Education initially provided grants to 10 U.S. sites and expanded to 12 additional U.S. locations in 1997. The program now serves more than 10 million students across six states and 15 school districts in the U.S., as well as Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy Mexico, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. IBM grants to school districts provide award-winning researchers, education consultants, the latest technology, and cash. State and district school personnel work in partnership with IBM to develop new technological tools that address key educational challenges, to help schools and districts use data effectively for better decision making, to increase the reading proficiency of young students, to enrich and deliver rigorous content in the core academic areas, to assess student learning to inform instruction, and to help improve communication within and between schools and the communities they serve.
The report’s analysis of state and school district student performance data indicates that Reinventing Education has supported standards-based reform efforts and has resulted in increased student achievement across grades and core academic areas. For example, in West Virginia, teachers are using IBM Learning Village, a secure online communications and collaboration framework, to design exemplary instructional activities in academic areas where students have shown they need the most help and practice. These exemplary activities are shared with other teachers through the Web.
The EDC report also found that previously low-achieving students made significant progress on the Stanford Achievement Test when teachers use these lesson units, while already high-achieving students maintained their achievement levels.
The study also found that Reinventing Education helped states and districts:
Establish effective, ongoing programs for teacher professional development.
Reinventing Education uses online technology to improve teaching practice and, in New York and West Virginia, has helped teachers share proven lessons and best practices statewide. The EDC findings indicate that the use of these tools has increased student motivation and participation, encouraged more successful teaching strategies and more effective use of technology, reduced teacher isolation, and introduced teachers to new resources and materials.
Implement programs that will serve as best practice models for other school reform initiatives.
IBM is using solutions developed in particular states and districts as best-practices models for other sites across the United States and around the world. For example, the Authentic Assessment Tool, developed in Vermont, is now being used in Maryland, Boston, Memphis, and New York City.
Sustain reform momentum after the life of the grant expired.
According to the EDC report, IBM Reinventing Education solutions have woven themselves into the fabric of everyday school life and continue to be expanded and inspire new investments beyond the life of the IBM grant.
Originally published on June 12, 2001