iPad app credited with 20% jump in math scores at middle school

by David Needle

January 20 2012

One of the pilot students in middle school shown focused on the HMH Fuse: Algebra 1 app on her iPad.
One of the pilot students in middle school shown focused on the HMH Fuse: Algebra 1 app on her iPad.

Computers in the classroom have long been a source of controversy as to just how much they improve student’s education and augment teacher instruction and more traditional tools. But a new app for the iPad seems to have provided measurable improvement in student’s test scores.

Score another win for the iPad, quite literally. Educational courseware provider Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) is touting the results of a yearlong pilot program that indicates the company’s HMH Fuse Algebra 1 program improved student’s test scores. 

HMH says the software is the first full-curriculum Algebra app developed exclusively for the iPad. Results from the pilot program, carried out at the Amelia Earhart Middle School in California's Riverside Unified School District, showed that over 78% of HMH Fuse users scored Proficient or Advanced on the spring 2011 California Standards Tests, compared with only 59% of their textbook-using peers.

"By engineering a comprehensive platform that combines the best learning material with technology that embraces students' strengths and addresses their weaknesses, we’ve gone far beyond the capabilities of an e-book to turn a one-way math lesson into an engaging, interactive, supportive learning experience," said Bethlam Forsa, Executive Vice President of Global Content and Product Development at HMH, in a release. "With HMH Fuse, teachers can assess student progress in real time and tailor instruction as needed.”

The first assessment of the pilot – Riverside's district Algebra benchmark – took place during the second trimester of the 2010–2011 year. Students using HMH Fuse scored an average of 10% points higher than their peers. The app's impact was even greater after the California Standards Test in spring 2011 with HMH Fuse students scoring approximately 20% higher than their textbook-using peers.

“The app was great! Students were motivated and more in charge of their own learning," said Dan Sbur, one of the two math teachers involved in the study. "[HMH Fuse] is more of a ‘my generation thing’ as opposed to a textbook.”

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  • scottmace
    2 years 10 months ago

    Background on research seems a little thin.

  • david
    2 years 10 months ago
    There's a bit more background on how the study was done and the results arrived at here: http://www.hmheducation.com/fuse/pilot-1.php
  • tigger662
    2 years 10 months ago

    Doesn't make sense. How can this program be inclusive to 'each' student's needs (strengths & weaknesses) without knowing who the student is? Are they telling us their s/w is intelligent enough to discern the learning of a student? Or, are the students more adept at learning because it's fun? Like the earlier commentor, who were these students? Was this really a controlled experiment? Was any Android app used on an Android tablet that was similar to the Ipad one? A lot more has to be proven before I buy into this.

  • mgozaydin
    2 years 10 months ago

    Shall I believe that .
    How many students involved ?
    You need 2 teams of students
    Are thet at same level of smartness.
    Two set, were they at the same time .
    I do not believe what Apple says. They are excellent in marketing. I admire them .
    So I say people. beware of them .

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