Math scores rise with use of iPad algebra curriculum

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) today announced the results of a yearlong pilot of HMH Fuse: Algebra I, the full-curriculum algebra app developed for the Apple iPad, involving the Amelia Earhart Middle School in California's Riverside Unified School District. The pilot showed that over 78 percent of HMH Fuse users scored Proficient or Advanced on the spring 2011 California Standards Tests, compared with only 59 percent of their textbook-using peers.

The first assessment of the pilot— Riverside's district algebra benchmark –took place during the second trimester of the 2010–2011 year. Students using HMH Fuse scored an average of 10 percentage points higher than their peers. The app's impact was even more pronounced after the California Standards Test in spring 2011, on which HMH Fuse students scored approximately 20 percent higher than their textbook-using peers.

Earhart educators agree that HMH Fuse's combination of content and technology triggered a sea change in their students' algebra education.

“The app was great! Students were motivated and more in charge of their own learning," said Dan Sbur, one of the two math teachers involved in the study. "[HMH Fuse] is more of a ‘my generation thing’ as opposed to a textbook.” Coleman Kells, Principal of Earhart, commented: "Students’ interaction with the device was more personal. You could tell students were more engaged. Using the iPad was more normal, more understandable for them.”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt designed HMH Fuse to make use of the iPad's design, touchscreen functionality and portability, which allows students to review their work and use the multimedia components of Fuse anytime, anywhere, regardless of internet availability.

Math teachers Jackie Davis and Sbur were charged with teaching one of their Algebra I classes via HMH Fuse: Algebra I on iPad, and the others via the traditional textbook version of the same curriculum. The pilot and control classrooms were assigned randomly so that any changes in performance would be attributed directly to HMH Fuse: Algebra I.

HMH is currently conducting additional HMH Fuse pilot studies in New Jersey, Nevada and Virginia.