MDRC, in collaboration with RAND Corporation, Digital Promise, Westat, and Public Strategies, is conducting a large-scale, national evaluation project, the ReSolve Math Study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.
The coronavirus pandemic led to substantial unfinished learning in math, exacerbating longstanding equity gaps in student math achievement. Educators now face the notable challenge of how best to address this unfinished learning. Traditionally, policymakers and educators have advocated a “sequential” approach, which views all below-grade content as foundational and systematically reteaches any content where there are knowledge gaps. “Just-in-time” learning has received attention more recently. This alternative reteaches only below-grade content deemed most essential to understanding the current grade-level topic being addressed in class. But there is limited evidence on which approach is most effective for catching students up, for which students, and in which contexts. This evaluation will examine the effectiveness of adaptive math education technology products that deliver these two catch-up strategies in elementary schools. Adaptive math education technology products have demonstrated promise in helping students with unfinished learning, but the benefits of using them, as well as the relative benefits of different approaches, are understudied. The findings from this evaluation will provide valuable evidence, especially for low-performing schools identified under the Every Student Succeeds Act and their most underserved students.