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Two Studies Shed Light on Student Math Gains in Teach to One

February 21, 2019

Findings suggest program’s positive impact when students are met where they are and demonstrate the challenge of doing so in the context of grade-level accountability

New York, NY – A nationwide study released today concluded that students enrolled in Teach to One: Math (TTO) showed positive gains on a nationally normed test, while a second study of a smaller set of schools that focused on one state assessment was unable to draw any generalizable conclusion. Taken together, the studies suggest the importance of meeting students where they are and the challenge of doing so under state accountability systems that focus on annual grade-level proficiency.

TTO, an innovative learning model by New York-based nonprofit New Classrooms Innovation Partners, enables schools to personalize each student’s academic program in order to accelerate their learning. The program integrates teacher-led, collaborative, and online learning so that students can be met where they are each day and can learn in ways most likely for them to succeed.

One study of 14 schools across the country using TTO found that students enrolled in the program for three consecutive years saw gains on an adaptive, nationally normed test that were 23 percent higher than the national average. Gains were particularly strong in schools where the program was better able to target each student’s unique needs regardless of his or her assigned grade. Another study of five schools in Elizabeth, New Jersey, using TTO for three years was unable to draw generalized conclusions but demonstrates the limitations of current grade-level assessments when meeting students’ unique needs.

“These two independent studies raise a critically important question for future inquiry,” said New Classrooms CEO Joel Rose. “What seems to be emerging is a real tension in math between approaches focused on long-term academic growth and state accountability systems based on short-term measures of grade-level academic proficiency. We are grateful for the work reflected in both studies, which shed light on this tension. While not definitive, the studies highlight the potential of personalized approaches to learning organized around the specific needs and ‘starting point’ of each student in service of college and career readiness.”

The first study, “Three-Year MAP Growth at Schools Using Teach to One: Math,” was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and released by MarGrady Research. It found that consistently enrolled students in middle schools using TTO for three years saw 23 percent greater gains than students nationally, as measured by the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test. Moreover, consistently enrolled students at schools subject to external accountability focused on MAP growth years experienced gains 53 percent above the national average.

The second study released by the Consortium of Policy Research in Education at Teachers College, is the completion of a three-year Investing in Innovation (i3) grant examining the impact of TTO at five schools in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The study was unable to reach generalized conclusions of the overall impact of the program as the school district and New Classrooms continually reconfigured the program in an effort to accommodate both the individual needs of students with the grade-level standards by which schools would be assessed.

“As a district committed to providing an innovative and personalized learning environment that ensures every child achieves excellence, we are grateful for the unique opportunity the i3 grant provided to participate in a study implementing Teach to One: Math,” said Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer. “I feel that both Elizabeth Public Schools and New Classrooms have learned valuable information from this experience and from the research findings from the Consortium of Policy Research in Education at Teachers College that we can apply moving forward to effectively reach each and every child academically.”

“Current assessment policies were put in place in hopes of helping all students succeed,” said Michael B. Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute. “These studies illustrate a critical flaw in those policies. When grade-level mastery is the only bar by which students are measured, teachers are limited in how they can address each student’s distinct needs so they can achieve long-term success. We must also focus on individual student growth.”