Eric.ed.gov – Evaluation of the Waterford Early Math & Science Program for Kindergarten: First-Year Implementation in Five Urban Low-Income Schools

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Background: The Waterford Early Math & Science (WEMS) program is a comprehensive educational software program designed to build math and science skills and concepts in grades K-2, alone or to supplement existing curricula. The program’s capability to individualize lessons, assess and track student progress, and reteach lessons is aimed at keeping potentially “at risk” students at grade level. Purpose: The present evaluation of the Waterford Early Math & Science program is the first independent study of its effectiveness. Setting: The study was carried out in five low-income, largely Hispanic schools in the Tucson Unified School District during the 2005-06 school year. Study Sample: This report covers the 22 kindergartens (345 students) of a larger study of 59 K-2 classrooms (923 students) in the five schools. Intervention: Treatment classrooms were provided with four to six computers loaded with the Waterford Early Math & Science program. The teachers received initial and on-going training in its use and were instructed to give every student at least four 22-minute sessions on the program each week. Research Design: The study used an experimental design in which classrooms were assigned through a process of stratified random selection to the treatment (Waterford Math & Science program) or control group. Control or Comparison Condition: Control classrooms were to use the district curricula and any supplemental programs or educational software already in use, except for Waterford Early Math & Science. Data Collection and Analysis: Data collected included pretest data on student achievement in math and science in the fall, and posttest data on the same in the spring. The Stanford Achievement Test (SAT10 Form A, SESAT1 and SESAT2) provided the pre-post measures for math and the environment (science). Usage data stored in each computer provided the measure of exposure to the program. Usage was filtered at 1100 minutes corresponding to six months of 45 minutes a week in order to see program effects on student achievement. Statistical analyses included paired and independent sample t tests, analysis of covariance, and chi-square tests for non-parametric measures. Treatment and control groups were also analyzed by subgroups of gender, ethnicity, primary home language, English language learner (ELL) status, pretest achievement quartile, and by program dosage. Findings: The most significant findings were: Qualitative data showed the attitudes of the treatment classroom teachers and principals to be very favorable toward the program; The general level of implementation was as expected for first-year implementation, with moderately high use of the software and limited use of supplementary materials; WEMS students significantly outperformed the control students in math and the environment tests; Program effect sizes were moderate;When compared with their counterparts in the control classes, the WEMS students made significantly greater gains in math and the environment tests in the case of boys, girls, Hispanics, Spanish home language students, and ELL students; WEMS English home language students and English-proficient (non-ELL) students also made significantly higher gains in the environment test than their control counterparts; WEMS Spanish home language students and WEMS ELL students made greater gains than other WEMS and control students and scored above the national mean on both tests; Kindergartners at all levels of program usage made greater gains than the controls on both tests. Native American, African American and white children showed greater gains in the WEMS classrooms than in the controls, but their samples were too small for results to be conclusive. Conclusion: The WEMS program appeared to benefit all children in kindergarten, particularly Hispanics, students whose primary home language was Spanish, and English language learners. Appended are: (1) Teacher Survey; and (2) Comments from Teacher Surveys. (Contains 28 tables and 19 figures.)

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som adjunkt hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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