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Innovative Mathematics-Technology Curriculum Improves Student Achievement in Algebra

April 19, 2006

Since beginning implementation of Carnegie Learning’s Cognitive Tutor Algebra I in 2003, over 3,000 middle and high school mathematics students in AEA 9’s participating E2T2 Consortium districts have been assisted in learning algebra with their own personal “computer tutor”. This research-based mathematics-technology curriculum relies on teacher-directed instruction 60% of class time supported by computer-aided tutoring 40% of class time. Curriculum development resulted from over 20+ years of research by cognitive scientists and computer technology design engineers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

The goals of this AEA-wide E2T2 initiative are to improve mathematics problem-solving and reasoning skills and technological ability of all middle and high school students and to improve the quality of mathematics instruction. In addition to serving students, more than 70 mathematics teachers have been trained to teach mathematics using the curriculum’s instructional strategies. Currently, 17 out of 20 K-12 school districts in Mississippi Bend AEA 9 are using Cognitive Tutor Algebra I in their mathematics sequence. Building on the success of Algebra I, three districts are now implementing Cognitive Tutor Geometry and one district is using Integrated Math I with four more districts adding Algebra I or Geometry next year. One district offers three Carnegie Learning curricula: Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II in their sequence. Nationwide, Carnegie Learning’s mathematics courses serve more than 325,000 students in 750 school districts.

Using pre- and posttest data from 2004-2005, student achievement growth in problem-solving as measured on a constructed response instrument posted gains from 65% to 100% in high implementer classrooms for all student subgroups (males, females, low SES, IEP, majority and minority). Student achievement growth for the same subgroups in low implementer classrooms posted gains from 30% to 90%, while student achievement growth for the same subgroups in the control group posted gains from 40% to 75%.

Mississippi Bend AEA 9 supports LEA mathematics teachers in their implementation of Cognitive Tutor curricula through site visits, monthly ICN sessions, and the use of new videoconferencing technology. These units, which promote teacher-to-teacher interaction and peer coaching, are linked to all districts using Cognitive Tutor, the AEA, and the Iowa Department of Education. For more information about Carnegie Learning’s Cognitive Tutor curricula, contact Sally Rigeman at (563) 344-6562 or email:

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