Two New Research Awards Focus on Ed-Tech Products

Associate Editor

Proposals to develop two ed-tech products received grants of $1.4 million each from the Institute of Education Sciences last week.

The $2.8 million in funding, which is for three-year projects, is only a portion of the $105 million in grants for 57 projects announced by the institute.

Uno, Dos, Tres, Listos! Monitoring Kindergarten Readiness Bilingually is a grant for the University of Houston to develop a classroom-based Spanish/English adaptive assessment that will evaluate children’s readiness to tackle early learning and development standards. It will be called the BELLA, for Bilingual English Language Learner Assessment.

Researchers will start by field-testing a set of paper-based assessment items to calibrate children’s responses and inform the development of the adaptive algorithm of the assessment. Then they will develop prototypes of the assessment, while collecting data at multiple points to inform iterative refinements. They will evaluate the psychometric properties of the items in a controlled setting and validate the fully functional computerized adaptive assessment with children in classrooms.

In the end, the researchers will develop a touch-screen, tablet-based assessment for the Spanish-speaking English learner that will provide systematic feedback and scaffolding for incorrect and incomplete responses.

The other ed-tech grant will give the University of Pittsburgh funding to develop an online, automated machine-scoring tool to assess student writing in response to two texts.

In granting the award, the IES indicated that recent advances in artificial intelligence offer a potential way forward through automated essay scoring of students’ analytic writing and feedback designed to improve writing and instruction about it.

The tool, which will be designed for students in grades 5 and 6, will automatically generate formative feedback based on students’ written responses. The research team will also develop a reporting dashboard to provide formative assessment feedback and reports to teachers to inform instruction.

The full list of IES new research projects is available here.

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