A number of services have cropped up over the years to help schools answer a question that, in an age of information overload, scarce resources, and new technology, is becoming central to how they move forward: What works?
Whether it’s aggregating the most trustworthy studies on education or culling user reviews on products, as Yelp does with restaurants, none of those available services, both privately and publicly financed, has gained national scale. But a recent proposal from two economists is perhaps the most ambitious—or, if you ask some of its potential users, flawed—attempt at creating a Consumer Reports for education technology to address the lack of independent evidence available on such products’ efficacy.
The proposal is called Edu Star, a technology tool that would allow schools to conduct rapid, randomized evaluations of education products, collect and analyze the results, and publish the data to the public. By doing so, schools would make better-informed purchasing decisions, and entrepreneurs would have evidence that their products worked, the economists hope.
A version of this article appeared in the February 06, 2013 edition of Digital Directions as New Tools Seek to Evaluate Ed-Tech Products