Pandemic Recovery

Imagine Learning, Gale, Discovery Education Top List of New Statewide Ed Tech Expenditures by Mississippi

The Mississippi Department of Education’s provision of no-cost subscriptions to digital learning solutions for districts statewide, launched in January, is helping to close learning gaps for students in schools taking advantage of the six opt-in platforms, according to a news release, with a majority of Mississippi districts already using the subscriptions or planning to begin this summer.

Mississippi’s State Board of Education in December approved the supplemental digital subscription expenditures totaling $23.1 million, funded by American Rescue Plan grants; the statewide opt-in access includes subscriptions to ed tech solutions in English language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science for students, teachers, schools, and districts. MDE said the subscriptions support the state’s College- and Career-Readiness Standards and complement each school's core instructional materials.

The first round of districts that opted in began using their subscriptions in January; a second round will begin this summer, MDE said.

Supplemental instructional subscriptions offered under the program and the number of districts opting in to each are as follows, MDE said:

  • Homer (K–2 English Language Arts): Designed to improve reading fluency, increase academic vocabulary and develop independent reading skills
    • Cohort 1 (started in January 2022): 37 districts
    • Cohort 2 (starts in July 2022): 48 districts
    • Total districts participating: 85
    • Total cost: $1.2 million
  • Newsela (3–12 English Language Arts): Designed to provide content specifically for ELA and expand content curation to support academic standards; includes instructional supports.
    • Cohort 1 (started in January 2022): 38 districts
    • Cohort 2 (starts in July 2022): 55 districts
    • Total districts: 93
    • Total cost: $3.9 million
  • Imagine Learning (K–8 Math): Designed to builds problem-solving skills, provide personalized learning and scaffolded instruction for all students.
    • Cohort 1 (started in January 2022): 35 districts
    • Cohort 2 (starts in July 2022): 52 districts
    • Total districts: 87
    • Total cost: $7.9 million
  • News-O-Matic (K–8 Social Studies): Publishes daily news articles with multimedia features and provides a teacher dashboard to help track and monitor students’ progress.
    • Cohort 1 (started in January 2022): 41 districts
    • Cohort 2 (starts in July 2022): 48 districts
    • Total districts: 89
    • Total cost: $370,854
  • Discovery Education (K–6 Science): Provides multimodal resources, aligns with academic standards and includes virtual STEM activities.
    • Cohort 1 (started in January 2022): 38 districts
    • Cohort 2 (starts in July 2022): 65 districts
    • Total districts: 103
    • Total cost: $4.7 million
  • Gale (7–12 Science): Includes interactive labs for biology, chemistry, and human anatomy; provides Lexile-level articles and includes multimedia content.
    • Cohort 1 (started in January 2022): 38 districts
    • Cohort 2 (starts in July 2022): 51 districts
    • Total districts: 89
    • Total cost: $5 million

An administrator at one district using the subscriptions since January described the importance of the supplemental instruction resources as vital to helping students there overcome so-called pandemic learning loss and said student engagement has increased with the new digital learning solutions.

“A large majority of students began school with more than average deficiencies and in need of additional interventions and engaging learning opportunities,” said North Bolivar Consolidated School District Interim Assistant Superintendent Xandra Brooks-Keys. “The digital subscriptions provide individualized learning paths to increase math fluency and overall mathematical competency, exposure to literary content to increase overall reading comprehension, and discovery of hands-on activities and science exposure to help students better understand and apply scientific concepts to reality. Most importantly, the students are engaged, having fun while closing learning gaps and increasing mastery of standards and overall student achievement.”

Learn more at at the MDE website.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].