An evaluation published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis evaluates the impact of the Digital Conversion Initiative on student outcomes for one school district in North Carolina.
The initiative provided laptop computers to every student from the fourth grade upwards, while also providing teachers with training on how to best use the technology in their lesson plans.
Marie Hull and Katherine Duch used administrative school data from 2005 to 2013 to determine the program’s impact on math and reading achievement for students in grades 4 to 8, as well as the impact of the program on student behavior. They compared the district’s data from before and after implementation, as well as data from neighboring school districts without one-to-one programs to determine the short-and medium-term effects.
Their results suggest there is potential for one-to-one laptop programs to help improve student outcomes. They found that:
- Math scores for students improved by 0.11 standard deviations in the short term and 0.13 standard deviations in the medium term.
- No significant change in reading scores in the short term, and mixed evidence of improvement in the medium term.
- Time spent on homework stayed constant.
- Students spent more of their homework time using a computer.
The authors concluded that one-to-one computing was a promising way to improve student outcomes, while the desired changes might take a few years to appear. Their research highlighted the need to follow outcomes into the medium and long term.
Source: Hull, M., & Duch, K. (2018). One-to-one technology and student outcomes: Evidence from Mooresville’s Digital Conversion Initiative. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Advanced online publication. doi:10.3102/0162373718799969