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Thursday, 8th March 2007

Selling Software: How vendors manipulate research and cheat students

Selling Software: How vendors manipulate research and cheat students
Source: Education Next (Hoover Institution)
From press release:

In a rush to meet requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act that instructional materials purchased with federal aid be scientifically proven effective, educational software companies are promoting research that is substandard and often misleading, according to a new report in the spring 2007 issue of Education Next. The vast majority of studies on education products of any kind--fully 75 percent--reviewed by the federal government do not meet its scientific standards, warns Todd Oppenheimer, author of the Education Next report.

The nation’s K–12 schools spent nearly $2 billion on electronic curricular products in 2006, up 4.4 percent from the previous year and surpassing the 2.6 percent growth rate of the overall instructional products market for U.S. schools. To keep pace with this growth, and to take continuing advantage of federal education subsidies, many companies pushed through questionable studies supposedly documenting their products’ effectiveness. In fact, a number of companies promoted their “scientific” research very soon after NCLB required it--an impossible feat, points out Oppenheimer, considering the many years it takes to conduct solid scientific studies.



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