As students’ math scores remain stagnant, education leaders are exploring ed-tech tools as a way to provide targeted support in essential math skills. But with more than 150 products to choose from, many district decision-makers say they need a way to quickly and effectively determine which products are high-quality and best meet their goals.
To respond to this need, we worked with six League of Innovative Schools districts in spring 2016 to run pilots of two middle school math products: Mathspace and Ratio Rancher. In our new report, Rapid Cycle Ed-Tech Pilots: Lessons Learned from Math Trials in Six Districts, we share data on how the tools worked in these classrooms, and offer lessons learned for conducting successful pilots.
Participants learned important lessons at each stage of the process. Prior to launching a pilot, districts were most successful when they clearly articulated the problem they were trying to solve using the ed-tech tool, and when they identified clear criteria for reviewing potential products, such as fit with the IT environment and cost. And, when educators were involved in product selection and pilot planning, they were more likely to use the tools throughout the study — leading to more accurate, robust data.
After the pilots were underway, districts were most successful when they supported educators throughout the study and gathered data from all users, including students. After the pilots were complete, Digital Promise worked with districts to analyze data and explore purchasing options with product developers.
Both districts and developers said it was valuable to participate in the pilot. Districts felt more confident about their purchasing decisions and improved their processes for testing products. Mathspace and Ratio Rancher developers found users’ feedback helpful in guiding their product improvements, and expressed an interest in future pilots.
We hope other districts use the recommendations in this report to improve their pilot processes, and then share their findings. This information can be added to our Ed-Tech Pilot Framework, which will launch this month. It outlines a step-by-step process for conducting pilots, and so far includes findings from pilots in these six districts, along with nine others.
Together, we can create and publish more evidence on how different ed-tech tools work in real classrooms, and in turn help more districts select the right products for their students.
Read more: Download the report
Share in the comments below or tweet us (@digitalpromise) your lessons learned from running product pilots!