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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

TEA Claims of ‘Dramatic Results’ For Online Math Video Games Are False, Says Expert

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. November 1, 2018   Excerpt from "The Harmful Consequences of Screen Technologies in Texas Education" 

Despite the volumes of research about addictive video games, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is implementing math video games in district and open charter schools for grades pre-K through 8.

The TEA is claiming “dramatic results” from the use of blended learning programs across the state, despite the study being flawed.

In the Texas SUCCESS Comprehensive Evaluation Report (2015), the researchers admitted to numerous problems that prevented an appropriate assessment of their program. One of the most concerning issues was that no control group – students who did not have access to the program – was used. All students had access to the program with some using it more than others.

Ms. Nakonia Hayes, retired math teacher and principal, wrote her observations about the math section (Thinking Through Math) of the TEA report. Hayes noted,

Based on the report’s summary, whether or not the TTM curriculum was valuable and improved student learning could not be accurately assessed. One wonders why such a massive effort would have been agreed to by the Texas Education Agency instead of setting up small pilot programs with defined groups of children across this giant state…..In spite of the massive amount of statistical data shown in their ‘Addendum Report,’ the fact is there cannot be concrete conclusions drawn that prove SUCCESS had success among a significant number of Texas students.

TEA has approved four online vendors of video math games for its 2018-2019 Math Innovation Zones programs. The vendors’ websites leave no doubt that their software is designed to stimulate children and offer prizes/incentives, which research shows to be addictive, especially to those children under age 10.

  • IXL – “offers hours of intrigue with vibrant visuals, interactive questions, and exciting prizes”

  • Imagine Math – “student earns points toward meeting classroom goals, donating to charity, or customizing their avatars”

  • Reasoning Mind – (now Imagine Math) - “animated characters, and built-in incentives”

  • ST Math - “The very experience of solving tantalizingly tricky puzzles is intrinsically motivating. In doing so, students develop a conditioned response that drives them to take on the next challenge with energy and enthusiasm.”

Commander Dr. Andrew Doan, a recovering video game addict and head of Addiction Research for the U.S. Navy and the Pentagon, says the entire focus of the gaming industry is to make games as stimulating and arousing to children as possible because that amplifies the addictive effect and sells more games.

Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, clinical psychologist and one of the nation's foremost experts on addiction, finds that video games and screen technologies affect the brain the same way as cocaine. Working with more than 1,000 teen patients, Kardaras found it much harder to treat tech addicts than heroin and crystal meth addicts. He believes that video games in general, and especially classroom video games, are really a digital drug.

Although the TEA claims “dramatic results” from their blended learning math program, there is much research that shows digital learning is having a negative impact on academic performance. An international report in 2015 from of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found that heavy users of classroom technology performed worse on math and reading tests.

Many Silicon Valley parents who work in the technology sector do not allow their children to use screen devices either at home or at school. Many send their children to the elite Waldorf School of the Peninsula which bans computers and requires students to study from hard copy textbooks and use paper and pencil for their work.

It’s time for taxpayers to defund this great social experiment on children.

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