Executive Summary -- (without Exhibits)
On Jan. 31, 2006, the White House announced the American Competitiveness Initiative. In his State of the Union address, the president vowed to encourage American innovation and to strengthen the nation's ability to compete in the global economy. A cornerstone of the initiative is a $380-million plan to improve education so that all elementary and secondary school students in the United States finish high school with a strong foundation in mathematics, science, and technology. Building on the foundation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the initiative seeks to raise student achievement in mathematics and science through testing and accountability, grants for targeted interventions, and curricula based on proven methods of instruction. Among the programs included in the American Competitiveness Initiative are new math programs for elementary and middle school students to help promote promising and research-based practices in math instruction, prepare students for more rigorous math courses, and diagnose and remedy the deficiencies of students who lack math proficiency.
Shortly before the president unveiled his plan, the U.S. Department of Education released the results of the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The 2005 NAEP was administered to students in more than 17,600 schools across the country. Mathematics and science assessments were administered to students in grades four, eight, and 12. Teachers in classrooms where fourth- and eighth-grade students took the NAEP mathematics assessment completed surveys about their instructional practices in 2004-05. The surveys included questions about educational technology. These data describe teachers' and students' access to technology and the uses that they make of it as they do their work in mathematics. Given the attention that the American Competitiveness Initiative places on mathematics and educational technology, these data provide an important benchmark for progress in teachers' and students' use of technology in mathematics instruction. The 2005 NAEP data on technology use in mathematics are the subject of this report. [ 1 ]
About This Report
This report describes educational technology access and use in fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics classrooms all across the country, and it makes comparisons between states' technology resources. Part 1 provides national data and documents differences between states in teachers' and students' access to instructional technology, in teachers' efforts to integrate technology in mathematics instruction and assessment, in students' use of technology in mathematics learning, and in the technology-related development and support that states provide to teachers. These data are provided in Chapter 2 on a state-by-state basis.
In school year 2004-05, most students were in schools with access to computers that could be used for mathematics instruction (Exhibit ES-1).
Seventy-five percent or more of students were in schools where they had access to computers. In a number of states, almost all students had access to computers within their classrooms or in computer labs or media centers.
Exhibit ES-1. Percentage of Students With Access to Computers for Mathematics Instruction in 2004-05 (not included)
Exhibit reads: Fifty-five percent of fourth-graders and 44 percent of eighth-graders had access to computers in mathematics classrooms. Seventy-four percent of fourth-graders and 79 percent of eighth-graders had access to computers for mathematics in school computer labs or media centers. Thirty percent of fourth-graders and 36 percent of eighth-graders did not use computers in mathematics. Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2005 Mathematics Assessment.
There was variability among states in students' access to classroom computers in 2004-05. In some states, 20 percent or more of fourth- and eighth-grade students were in mathematics classrooms with computers; in other states, 60 percent or more of fourth- and eighth-graders were in mathematics classrooms that had computers (Exhibit ES-2).
Exhibit ES-2. Differences Between States in the Percentage of Students With Classroom Computers in Mathematics in 2004-05 [ 2 ] (not included)
Exhibit reads: The percentage of fourth-graders in classrooms with access to computers ranged from just over 20 percent to over 70 percent across states. The range went from just over 20 percent to over 90 percent for eighth-graders. Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2005 Mathematics Assessment.
About a quarter of fourth-grade students and just over half of eighth-grade students had teachers who used computers at least once a week to develop mathematics curricula or assignments.
Fewer students had teachers who used computers to look up information on the Internet or on CD-ROMs for mathematics curriculum planning.
Relatively few students had teachers who integrated technology into mathematics instruction at least once a week in 2004-05 (Exhibit ES-3).
Only about 10 percent of fourth- and eighth-graders were in classrooms in which teachers used technology once a week or more often to present mathematics concepts to them. State-by-state data showed as much as a 25 percentage-point difference between states in the proportion of students whose teachers used computers at least weekly to present mathematics concepts. More than 30 percent of students were in mathematics classes that did not make use of computers at all in 2004-05.
Exhibit ES-3. Percentage of Students Whose Teachers Used Computers in Mathematics Instruction at Least Once a Week in 2004-05 (not included)
Exhibit reads: The teachers of 9 percent of fourth-graders and 13 percent of eighth-graders used computers at least once a week to present mathematics concepts. The teachers of 11 percent of fourth-graders and 32 percent of eighth-graders used computers at least once a week to post homework, assignment, or schedule information on the Web. Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2005 Mathematics Assessment.
In mathematics classes, technology was more likely used by students than by their teachers.
Thirty percent of fourth-grade students and 11 percent of eighth-grade students used computers at least once a week to practice or review mathematics topics, and roughly 25 percent to 30 percent, respectively, used computers to extend mathematics learning with enrichment activities (Exhibit ES-4). There was considerable variation in student use across states, however. In some states, as many as 70 percent of fourth-grade students used computers at least once a week for practice or review in mathematics; in others, fewer than 10 percent did.
Exhibit ES-4. Percentage of Students Who Used Computers in Mathematics at Least Once a Week in 2004-05 (not included)
Exhibit reads: Thirty percent of fourth-graders and 11 percent of eighth-graders used computers at least once a week to practice or review mathematics topics. Twenty-four percent of fourth-graders and 29 percent of eighth-graders used computers at least once a week to extend mathematics learning with enrichment activities. Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 2005 Mathematics Assessment.
A substantial minority of teachers used technology for student assessment in mathematics in school year 2004-05.
Twenty to 25 percent of students were in classrooms in which teachers reported at least occasional use of computers to administer whole-class or individualized tests in mathematics. There was variability among states in levels of use. At one end of the spectrum was a state where more than 40 percent of students had teachers who reported using technology for whole-class testing in mathematics. At the other end was a state where only about 5 percent of students did.
Survey responses of mathematics teachers suggest that in 2004-05 almost half of America's students were in classrooms where teachers lacked access to district- or school-provided professional development on the use of computers for mathematics instruction.
With increased attention to mathematics instruction and students' technology literacy, these findings are timely. The 2005 NAEP data suggest that classroom use of technology in mathematics classes remains modest. Differences between states in the use of technology for curriculum development, teaching, and assessment are as large as 40 percentage points.
The possible explanations for teachers' and students' modest use of technology in mathematics are numerous. They include insufficiencies in hardware and support and the many reasons that it is difficult for teachers to access and profit from teacher professional development. Among these are the difficulty of finding time to take technology-related training, the abbreviated nature of many professional development offerings, insufficient opportunities for immediate and frequent practice of what teachers learn in training, the paucity of follow-up and advanced training on technology use, and the latitude that teachers need to try new and potentially ineffective (at least at first) technologies in their classrooms.
The next administration of the NAEP mathematics assessment to fourth- and eighth-graders is scheduled for 2007. Fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics teachers will be surveyed about their instructional practices in conjunction with the assessment. Examined together, the 2005 and 2007 data can be used to describe national and statewide trends in the use of educational technology in mathematics classrooms by students and their teachers.
- Data on technology use were not gathered from science teachers during the 2005 NAEP administration
- The state-to-state differences shown in Exhibit ES-2 are statistically significant. Using a between-groups heterogeneity statistic for each variable and grade, the null hypothesis of equal true values for states was rejected at the alpha = 0.01 level.