The current evaluation examines the impact of TeachTown Basics at six elementary schools in Anson County School District, a racially diverse district located in North Carolina during the 2009-2010 school year. The students were 158 kindergarten students from low-income families identified as at-risk for school failure. Teachers were asked to implement daily TeachTown Basics computer-based lessons and naturalistic, off-computer generalization lessons. The evaluation assesses the progress of the students in communication and cognitive abilities after nine months of instruction. Growth in communication and cognitive abilities were measured by the Battelle Developmental Inventory (BDI-2; Newberg, 2005), a standardized assessment of key developmental skills in young children that involves observations of the child, parent and/or caregiver interviews, and interactions with the child using toys, games and tasks.
After nine months of TeachTown Basics use, students showed statistically significant and educationally meaningful gains in all communication (expressive and receptive) and cognitive (attention and memory, reasoning and academics, and perception and concepts) skill areas assessed. Age equivalent gains were 23 months in receptive communication, 18 months in expressive communication, 15 months in attention and memory, 17 months in reasoning and academics, and nearly 21 months in perception and cognition. Gains averaged 1-6, or 19 months after 9 months of instruction, demonstrating accelerated growth for the at-risk kindergarten students.
Increased time spent using TeachTown Basics computer-based lessons was associated with higher scores on the BDI-2. Students who, on average, used TeachTown Basics computer-based lessons for at least 10 minutes a day (or 30 hours per academic year) showed greater age equivalent gains than students who used the program for less than 10 minutes a day on four out of five subdomains on the BDI-2 (see Figure 2). Results were statistically significant in the Expressive Communication subdomain only. Further, there was a moderate positive relationship between the amount of time spent using TeachTown Basics and scores on the Receptive subdomain of the BDI-2 (r(41) = 0.35, p < .05).
BDI-2 age equivalent gains for students who used TeachTown: Basics for more than 30 hours and for students who used the program for 30 hours or less during the academic year (n = 42).
Students who used TeachTown Basics over nine months showed statistically significant and educationally meaningful gains in all subdomains of the BDI-2. However, students who spent more time using the software had higher scores than students who spent less time using the software.