Program

Sep 22, 2014

OVERVIEW

Home Computers in Academic Achievement aims to improve a variety of educational outcomes by giving free computers to students in grades six through ten who did not previously own one. An experimental evaluation of the program found that being given a computer did not improve grades, attendance, test scores, or homework effort compared with those who were not given a computer.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Low-income and minority children

Home Computers in Academic Achievement provides free computers to students who have not previously owned one in order to promote positive educational outcomes. Computers were donated or purchased from Microsoft’s Computers for Classrooms. Each computer was valued at approximately four to five hundred dollars a unit. This intervention aims to improve the educational outcomes of grades, standardized test scores, and behavioral outcomes (i.e. absences, tardiness).

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Fairlie, R. W., & Robinson, J. (2013). Experimental evidence on the effects of home computers on academic achievement among schoolchildren. CESufi Working Papers, February(4128).

Evaluated population: A total of 1,123 students ranging from grades six through ten participated in this evaluation. Students were from fifteen different Central Valley California schools. Each school was similar in size, had around eighty one percent free or reduced lunches, a high percentage of minority students, and lower than state average tests scores.

Approach: At the beginning of the school year, initial surveys were given to determine which students qualified for the free computers. Randomization of individuals had half of the qualifying group receive their computers right away (the treatment) while the other half (the control) were told they would receive them at the end of the school year. Specific outcomes that were measured for included computer ownership, computer usage, grades, test scores, attendance, and homework effort. Outcome information was gathered in five ways: 1) pre treatment school administration data; 2) post treatment school administration data; 3) standardized test results also provided by school; 4) baseline surveys at beginning of the school year; and 5) follow up survey at end of school year.

Results: It was found that those involved in the treatment group had higher levels of computer ownership and usage time than those in the control group. However overall, the experimental evaluation found very few differences, none significant, between the treatment and the control group, implying that computer usage doe not impact positive educational outcomes.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

Information for receiving computer donations: http://www.computersforclassrooms.org/

References

Fairlie, R. W., & Robinson, J. (2013). Experimental evidence on the effects of home computers on academic achievement among schoolchildren. CESufi Working Papers, February(4128).

KEYWORDS

adolescents (12-17), middle school, high school, males and females (co-ed), Hispanic/Latino, urban, community or media campaign, attendance, academic achievement/grades, academic motivation/self-concept/expectations/engagement

 

Program information last updated 9/22/14.

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