Panel Paper: Sustainable Education Goals? Examining a State-Based Education Initiative for Digital Learning

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Building 3, Room 210 (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

A. Brooks Bowden, North Carolina State University and Viviana Rodriguez, Teachers College, Columbia University

In an age of constrained resources and evidenced-based decision making, policy within education must be sustainable and effective. One area where policy has expanded quickly is digital learning. Over the last two decades, government interest in expanding access to digital resources to students has widely spread both in the national and international arena. Policymakers claim large benefits in terms of student education and labor market outcomes to justify policy providing widespread digital access that tailors educational content and support to each student’s needs in order to maximize learning. This change is dependent upon student take-up of these resources, accessibility and receptiveness of students and families to devices and internet, and adaptations in teacher performance in the classroom. This paper explores this phenomenon under the context of the statewide North Carolina Digital Learning Initiative (NCDLI). This paper provides evidence of the important mechanisms through which student behavior is changed through the infusion of technological resources and the equity issues associated to them. Preliminary results indicate wide variation in implementation and investments. This includes critical aspects regarding the scalability of the policy related to parental investment, teacher time, and other resources needed to achieve effective implementation. We utilize exogenous infusions of resources on short term outcomes such as absenteeism and achievement. Longer term outcomes, such as graduation and postsecondary enrollment, are next steps in the analysis.