Evaluating Digital Math Tools in the Field
Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
Many school districts have adopted digital tools to supplement or replace teacher-led instruction, usually based on the premise that these tools can provide more personalized or individualized experiences for students and at lower cost. Rigorously evaluating whether such initiatives promote better student outcomes in the field is difficult as most schools and teachers are unwilling to enforce rigorous study designs such as randomized control trials. We used study designs that were feasible in practice to assess whether two digital math tools, eSpark and IXL, were associated with improvements in 3rd – 6th grade student test scores in math. We also investigated the resource requirements and costs of implementing eSpark and IXL to assess whether these tools represent a valuable use of resources. We find that while IXL is substantially less costly to implement than eSpark, its use is not significantly associated with students’ math performance.