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Research Questions

  1. What were the reported costs associated with adopting and implementing the Cognitive Tutor Algebra I (CTAI) curriculum?
  2. What were the reported costs associated with adopting and implementing the other three algebra I curricula used in nearly all of the schools participating in the effectiveness study?
  3. How did costs for adopting and implementing CTAI compare with costs of adopting and implementing schools' existing algebra I curricula?

In an ongoing study, RAND researchers are evaluating the effectiveness of Carnegie Learning's Cognitive Tutor Algebra I (CTAI) curriculum, a technology-based curriculum that combines classroom instruction with individualized instruction by a computer-based tutor. While the effectiveness of the curriculum in raising student achievement is the main focus of the study, the affordability of the curriculum is another factor that districts may wish to consider in deciding whether to adopt it; so, as a complement to the effectiveness study, the authors of this report examined the costs of implementing the CTAI curriculum and comparison algebra I curricula. The authors report on the per-student costs for each curriculum in three categories: materials, which include textbooks and software; software implementation resources, such as computers; and teacher training. They find that, overall, adoption of the CTAI curriculum was likely to cost a district significantly more than what was typically spent on the other algebra I curricula used by participating schools.

Key Findings

Carnegie Learning's Cognitive Tutor Algebra I (CTAI) Curriculum Was More Expensive to Adopt Than Comparison Curricula

  • Overall costs of CTAI were, on average, about $69 per student higher than the comparison curricula (published by Prentice Hall, Glencoe, and McDougal Littell) that were in place in the participating districts.
  • Although comparison curriculum algebra I textbooks in districts tend to have higher initial purchase prices, they are used for multiple years and end up costing about $10 less per student than the cost of CTAI materials over the course of an algebra I curriculum adoption.
  • The technology demands of CTAI triggered extensive technology investments that might not otherwise have occurred, which raised the up-front cost to implement CTAI compared with other technology curricula.
  • Teacher training was another reason for CTAI's higher per-student cost: The level of training recommended by Carnegie Learning costs about $15 per student more than training provided for the comparison curricula.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Data and Methods

  • Chapter Three

    Results

  • Chapter Four

    Discussion

  • Appendix

    Example of Survey Instrument Administered to Districts Implementing Both Curricula

This work was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. The research was conducted in RAND Education, a unit of the RAND Corporation.

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