Educational Apps Improve Test Scores

September 16, 2019

At Alpha, we rely heavily on adaptive educational apps instead of the traditional teaching method. Adaptive software supports our promise to parents that their students will learn twice as fast at Alpha. The growth our students experienced between spring 2018 and spring 2019 was substantial, strengthening our belief in adaptive software.

In Level 2 and Level 3, we saw a strong correlation between the amount of time spent in educational apps and a student’s average MAP growth percentile — a measure of how much they improved relative to students of the same age and starting score:

R = 0.80, R2 = 0.64

This led to two major takeaways

An astonishing 64% of the variance in average growth was explained by how much time was spent in apps. This correlation is remarkable, especially considering the number of variables that go into day-of test performance, such as proper sleep, nutrition, and focus.

Year-over-year MAP scores reveal a much clearer growth trend. Each student takes the MAP test 3x per year. It’s tempting to place a lot of stock in a single MAP score, but we see higher volatility and a weaker correlation between growth and time in apps when we look at a single test’s results. When we look at year-over-year improvement, growth trends smooth out and become clear. Parents: if your student is working hard in apps but their MAP score fluctuates from season-to-season, don’t worry or be discouraged. We’re aiming to see progress over the long term.

Our theory that time spent in adaptive apps leads to MAP score growth is accurate. We are proud of these results and look forward to seeing how they evolve by spring 2020.