THE SHORT-TERM IMPACT OF THE ‘DIGITAL SCHOOL’ PROJECT ON TEST SCORE DISTRIBUTION

P. Penszko, P. Zielonka

Instytut Badań Edukacyjnych (POLAND)
Most research on the influence of information and communications technology (ICT) on pupil achievement is limited to its effect on mean test score. In this study a different approach was adopted to examine what change in test score distribution resulted from participation in a 1:1 laptop project and to observe how low- and high-scoring pupils were influenced.

The results reported in this paper are from a pilot project, ‘Digital School’, involving 399 Polish primary schools. These randomly selected schools, from 3500 that applied, were financed for the purchase of laptops or tablets for teachers and students (one-to-one basis), interactive whiteboards and other ancillary technology. Financial support was part of a comprehensive public intervention which also covered teacher training, establishing cooperation networks for teachers and development of educational e-resources, such as e-textbooks. The random method of school selection created an appropriate environment for valid control group construction and to conduct a counterfactual impact study.

Pupils’ final exam results were taken as study data, before and after the project. The final exam took place three months after the ICT equipment was delivered to schools, so only short-term effects could be observed. Although there was no significant change in mean score, a statistically significant shift in the lower part of the score distribution in one exam part was observed. The findings suggest that a few months of participation in the ‘Digital School’ project was sufficient to improve the mathematical and logic skills of some relatively low-scoring pupils.