In the United States, millions of students are behind grade level, especially in math. In 2019, only 41% of fourth graders were considered “proficient” in math. This number drops to 34% by eighth grade. Students who are Black, Latinx, and/or experiencing poverty are particularly affected, with COVID-19 only exacerbating learning loss and leading to wider academic gaps.
Cignition’s online math tutoring program, which occurs virtually in a one-to-one setting, focuses on increasing deep conceptual understanding and is personalized and adaptive for each student’s needs. The program has shown promising initial findings in a randomized controlled trial in which more than 80% of the students were Black, Latinx, and/or low-income. The researchers found that Cignition dramatically improved student outcomes, with an effect size of 0.46, specifically in understanding of fractions which is predictive of higher performance in Algebra and advanced math in later grades (Pellegrini et al., 2018, Roschelle et al., 2019). These outcomes resulted after less tutoring than other tutoring approaches.
With funding from Overdeck Family Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Cignition is now working to expand its virtual tutoring offering to ~750 fifth grade students while experimenting with more engaging platform features and larger group sizes in an effort to lower cost and increase access. The program will be designed to both compensate for missed learning due to school closures in students’ previous fourth grade classrooms and to make sure that they are well-prepared for the curriculum in fifth grade.
The combination of virtual delivery and a group tutoring model can help Cignition significantly lower its current costs, supporting their path to scalability and meeting more students’ needs.