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West Virginia to Evaluate Digital Impact in Elementary Math Curriculum

The United States Department of Education has issued a $3.5 million grant to conduct a study of a new elementary school mathematics curriculum in West Virginia schools.

The grant was awarded to SRI International research institute to study the efficacy of digital aspects within a fifth-grade math curriculum designed by non-profit organization Reasoning Mind.

The SRI study will include a "randomized controlled trial that will examine whether Reasoning Mind's integrated digital approach is more successful than conventional teaching approaches that use traditional curricula and leave differentiated instruction, integration of technology, and selection of additional students supports to a teacher's discretion," according to a release, and will also examine how digital resources can increase learning for students with low or high prior math scores.

The study will also include observation of classroom use of digital curriculum by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh.

"Although there is growing interest in online education and digital tools, there has not been a rigorous evaluation of a year-long, fully digital curriculum in the classroom," said Jeremy Roschelle, co-director of the Center for Technology in Learning at SRI International, in a prepared statement. "Reasoning Mind offers a complete curriculum, ready for evaluation, and the state of West Virginia offers the right conditions for testing a digital mathematics approach at scale."

Reasoning Minds has been tasked with recruiting up to 60 West Virginia schools to participate in the study, set to begin in August of 2014 and continue throughout the school year.

"The Reasoning Mind system is not just a technology wrapper on a traditional textbook," said Alex Khachatryan, CEO of Reasoning Mind, in a release. "Our goal is to provide a curriculum that is a comprehensive, coherent approach to learning mathematics using state-of-the-art tools. This study allows us to evaluate the efficacy of this approach."

Additionally, with West Virginia completing fiber optic connections to 471 schools and with more than 437 schools already possessing up-to-date computers, the SRI study will seek to determine how digital resources can best serve rural schools.

About the Author

Kevin Hudson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at sportswryter@yahoo.com.

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