To the Editor:
As a former educator and longtime educational technology executive, I find the federal study proclaiming no advantage to using technology-based reading and math programs incredible (“Major Study on Software Stirs Debate,” April 11, 2007).
Not that I don’t believe some of the weak programs included in the study could substantiate such a claim, but because the study’s inclusion of solid, research-proven programs like Carnegie Learning Inc.’s Cognitive Tutor curricula in this mix is simply ridiculous. Carnegie Mellon’s 10-plus years of empirical evidence for these programs show statistically significant results, versus traditional textbook curricula.
Does anyone in the intelligent world really think that this U.S. Department of Education study is a sensible research approach? It’s like saying we should evaluate the gas-guzzling car industry by combining the miles per gallon of a Hummer, Ford Expedition, and, oh yeah, throw in a Toyota Prius. Or why not determine if baseball players take steroids by conducting a research project that mixes all their blood together? I doubt that Cal Ripken Jr. would have wanted to be in the same study with Barry Bonds.
Shame on the architects of the study, shame on the Education Department, and shame on the media and other sheep who stay silent while nincompoops masquerade as education research experts and do-gooders.
By the way, where are all the research studies validating the billions of dollars spent on the plethora of crappy textbooks foisted upon our unsuspecting students for decades? Now there’s a study I wouldn’t mind the Education Department spending our tax dollars on. But the return-on-investment bar has always been higher for technology-based educational solutions than for print curricula.
Menlo Park, Calif.
The writer was the first chief executive officer of Carnegie Learning Inc., in Pittsburgh.
A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2007 edition of Education Week as Scorn for Federal Study On Impact of Software