Program Areas | P-12 Education

Evaluation of Broward County, Florida, Digital 5: Pathways to Personalized Learning

In fall 2013, the superintendent of the School Board of Broward County, Robert W. Runcie, launched Digital 5: Pathways to Personalized Learning, an initiative to advance learning in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas and to help prepare for the school system’s transition to Common Core state standards. In this first pilot year, laptop computers were provided to about 3,200 fifth grade students and their teachers in 27 elementary schools across the district. The district chose to distribute laptops in particular because it plans to begin administering state achievement assessments electronically, which is difficult to do on smaller devices.

The laptops are equipped with electronic copies of all of the students’ textbooks as well as with applications for research and other learning activities that students use throughout the school day. Because many of these programs are not web-based, students, including those without home internet access, can continue to use them at home. The district is also using a web-based learning-management system called Schoology, which enables teachers to assign work, track individualized learning, and interact with students in an appealing format that is similar to a social networking site.

Metis is working with the district to conduct a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of this pilot project to identify successes and challenges that will help the district modify the program in preparation for broader implementation. Data are being collected through focus groups, interviews, implementation surveys, and site visits as well as from the applications themselves, which yield information such as how much time students spend using each program. This information will be correlated with students’ academic gains as well as with outcomes such as school attendance, discipline, and engagement in learning, to determine the effects of the move toward incorporating technology into learning.