Classroom Technology

The Most Popular Ed-Tech Products Don’t Meet Research Standards

By Lauraine Langreo — March 08, 2023 1 min read
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Only about a quarter of the 100 most-used ed-tech tools in classrooms meet Every Student Succeeds Act requirements, according to a new report from LearnPlatform, an education technology company that helps districts measure the use and effectiveness of their digital products.

The report examines how the 100 most-accessed ed-tech tools stack up across the United States based on key factors, such as data privacy, interoperability, federally aligned evidence, and other indicators.

When the pandemic hit, many companies provided their products to schools and teachers for free. And schools used them even if companies didn’t provide evidence of standards alignment, because educators needed something that would help engage their students.

The average number of technology products that school districts access in a given month has almost tripled over the last several years, but oftentimes, the efficacy of those products aren’t clearly shown.

Federal, state, and district policies are increasingly asking companies to show evidence of alignment to ESSA. Large districts, such as Los Angeles and Chicago, are now requiring evidence information from vendors during the purchasing process.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, Congress passed Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to help districts recover from the pandemic. The term “evidence-based” was used 17 times in the first 20 pages of the bill, which shows there’s more desire for proof that a tech tool works, said LearnPlatform co-founder Karl Rectanus during a presentation about ESSA and technology at the SXSW EDU conference this week in Austin.

“With tech-enabled learning here to stay, understanding which tools are effective, interoperable, compliant, accessible, and safe are table stakes,” Rectanus said in a statement. “While not ubiquitous, this report indicates that the use of evidence is taking flight across education.”

For the report, LearnPlatform analyzed data on more than 11,000 ed-tech products based on the engagement of 2.8 million students and more than 320,000 educators. The analysis was then cross-referenced with publicly available information on provider websites and from respected associations and organizations, including Common Sense Media, Digital Promise, and the International Society for Technology in Education, or ISTE.

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