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Education Software: Educators Are Forced To Figure Out Which Ones Works

School closures in all 50 states have sent educators and parents alike scrambling to find online learning resources to keep kids busy and productive at home. Website traffic to the homepage for IXL, a popular tool that lets students practice skills across five subjects through online quizzes, spiked in March. Same for Matific, which gives students math practice tailored to their skill level, and Edgenuity, which develops online courses.

All three of these companies try to hook prospective users with claims on their websites about their products’ effectiveness. Matific boasts that its game-based activities are “proven to help increase results by 34 percent.” IXL says its program is “proven effective” and that research “has shown over and over that IXL produces real results.” Edgenuity boasts that the first case study in its long list of “success stories” shows how 10th grade students using its program “demonstrated more than an eightfold increase in pass rates on state math tests.”

These descriptions of education technology research may comfort educators and parents looking for ways to mitigate the devastating effects of lost learning time because of the coronavirus. But they are all misleading.

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