Marta Pellegrini, University of Cagliari (Italy)
A high-dosage math tutoring program, modeled after Saga Education in the U.S., was developed in the Netherlands through a collaboration of schools, funders and providers to support students from low-income families. The program was delivered by a tutor to student pairs four times a week for an entire school year. In the sessions tutors reviewed mathematical concepts introduced by the teachers to the whole class, as well as personalized the instruction based on student needs.
A recent evaluation assessed the effectiveness of this program in fourth and fifth grade. The study randomly assigned 434 students to the experimental group or to the control group for one school year. Using the national math and reading tests to assess the effectiveness of the program, results showed a significant improvement in math achievement (ES = +0.28) in both grade 4 and 5. No effects were found in reading. The authors’ conclusion affirms that this high-dosage math tutoring program was effective and scalable, bolstering the academic success of low-income students.
By Carmen Pannone, University of Cagliari, Italy
Recently, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) produced a systematic review on the effectiveness of Reading Apprenticeship, a professional development program that can be delivered online or in person. The program leads teachers to help their students develop reading comprehension and acquire interest, engagement, and confidence in reading. It also aims to enhance social-emotional learning, as well as academic achievement in math, reading, science and social sciences for middle and high school students. This review focuses on the effects on academic achievement.
Five out of the nine studies located from a literature search met the WWC inclusion criteria. The selected studies were randomized control trials involving a total of 22,176 American students in grade 7-9. The most assessed outcomes were reading comprehension (n=5) and literacy achievement (n=3); mathematics achievement was assessed by two studies; science, general academic achievement, social sciences, and vocabulary were assessed only by one study, and life sciences by another one.
The results from one study showed that Reading Apprenticeship had a statistically significant positive effect on science achievement (ES=+0.11) and on general academic achievement (ES=+0.07, p=0.02). In the other domains, the overall effects of the program were not statistically significant (p>0.05), but the program seemed promising for life sciences (ES=+0.16), social studies (ES=+0.15), literacy achievement (ES=+0.04), and reading comprehension (ES=+0.04), with no effects on vocabulary nor on mathematics.
By Feifei Wang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
How can the United States bridge math proficiency gaps? Ensuring equitable opportunities for students to receive adequate preparation and access to advanced math is critical to the equation. This is due to the clear benefits of learning advanced math in high school, such as increased options for majoring in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, higher rates of college acceptance, and greater opportunities for college scholarships and financial aid. Despite these benefits, a significant portion of high school students are either not being offered the opportunity to take or are opting out of advanced math courses. A recent report from RAND identified gaps in students’ opportunities to access advanced math and provided recommended support to address these gaps.
This report utilized data from nationally representative surveys of teachers and school leaders in kindergarten through grade 12 during the 2021-2022 school year. The findings indicated that fewer advanced math courses were offered in small high schools, rural high schools, and high schools primarily serving historically marginalized communities, and that uneven access to advanced math started before high school. In addition, math teachers who worked in high-poverty schools were likely to report skipping standards-aligned content and replacing the skipped content with material from prior grade levels. A large proportion of K-12 math teachers expressed the need for additional support in delivering high-quality math instruction. The authors recommend the following to policymakers and education leaders: First, school districts should allocate funding towards implementing high-dosage tutoring programs for economically disadvantaged high schoolers; Second, education leaders should support teachers with high-quality training and standards-aligned curriculum materials; Third, district leaders should collaborate with regional colleges to make high-quality advanced courses accessible for all high school students; Fourth, education leaders and teachers should establish transparency in communication regarding the importance of course-taking.
By Winnie Tam, Centre for University and School Partnership, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The online learning tsunami of recent years has created the “digital divide,” which refers to the differences in access to, use of, and skills in information and communication technology (ICT) among different social groups. A study by Guo and Wan examined equity issues in online learning in China during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stratified sampling was conducted to draw sample data from the Online Learning Survey of High School Students. A total of 27,710 students’ responses from 164 high schools in 10 provinces was included in the study. Three levels of digital divide were assessed regarding students’ online learning during the pandemic:
First-level digital divide refers to equipment and network conditions. Though 95% of students had at least one piece of equipment that could be used for online learning, 18.4% claimed that learning was negatively affected by inadequate equipment. Looking further into the details, equipment and network condition problems were more likely to negatively affect students with low SES than those with high SES, students from rural areas than those from urban areas, and students from non-single-child families than from single-child families.
Second-level digital divide refers to the difference in internet usage and skills. A self-evaluated scale was used to assess students’ adaptability to online learning which reflected, to a certain extent, the general digital literacy. Lower adaptability scores to online learning were found among students with low SES (ES = -0.46), from rural areas (ES = -0.31), and from non-single-child families (ES = -0.32).
Third-level digital divide refers to the difference in offline benefits drawn from internet use. Students’ reports of whether their overall test scores decreased during the pandemic were used to access the benefit gained or lost. Results of logistic regressions showed similar results to the first two levels digital divide. Students who encountered network problems or had difficultly adapting to online learning were more likely to have deteriorated learning outcomes.
It was considered that the traditionally disadvantaged group could reduce their outcome deterioration if their adaptability to online learning could be improved given that equipment and network conditions were the same. The authors stated that establishing online learning alone cannot reduce education inequality, so further efforts are required from various stakeholders.