School districts across the country spent millions in federal relief funds on educational software intended to mitigate pandemic learning loss, but in many cases, much of the technology wasn’t used, according to The Associated Press.
Schools received billions in COVID-19 relief funds from Congress, and tech companies engaged in aggressive marketing to get districts to purchase their products. School districts used these federal funds to enter multi-million dollar contracts for software licenses that often went unused by students, the AP reported. Moreover, some products were found to not be particularly effective.
Clark County Public Schools in Nevada paid $2 million for a math app called “Freckle,” which less than half of elementary school students used, according to AP. When students did use the app, the average session was less than five minutes long.
The Jefferson County School District signed contracts worth over $7 million for educational technology contracts during the pandemic, the AP reported. When asked by the AP if they had any records evaluating how often the technology was used, and if it was effective in educating students, the district said no such records existed.
Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland spent $1.4 million on learning support software that generated little interest from students, according to AP. A 2019 study found that, on average, 67% of educational technology licenses purchased by schools go unused.
ThinkCERCA, a writing learning software on which Clark County schools spent $1,350,680, was found to have had no impact on test scores, the AP reported.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona argued in June that COVID-19 relief funds spent on schools would reverse the damage to learning caused by pandemic-era school shutdowns, according to a statement issued by the secretary that month. Funding in many districts went toward paying staff and teacher bonuses, the Washington Free Beacon found.
The Jefferson County School District, Clark County Public Schools, Prince George’s County Public Schools and ThinkCERCA did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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