MATH 180: Digital Access Study
At a glance
  • Program: MATH 180®
  • Subjects: Intervention, Math
  • Report Type: Efficacy Study, Study Conducted by Third Party
  • Grade Level: Middle
  • Region: Southeast
  • District Urbanicity: Suburban
  • District Size: Large
  • Outcome Measure: MATH 180 software use, Math Inventory
  • Evaluation Period: 2017–2018 school year
  • Study Conducted by: JEM&R
The Challenge

A large school district in Georgia wanted to provide support to a group of their 5th and 6th grade striving math students. They sought a research-based approach to instruction that also afforded them some flexibility of implementation and adaptivity. The solution they chose was the MATH 180 Digital Access Solution. The district was interested in investigating whether the adaptive nature and flexibility of the MATH 180 Digital Access Solution would address their staffing and infrastructure constraints while still providing the support their students needed.

The Solution

With the goal of ensuring that striving students become equipped with the knowledge, reasoning, and confidence to thrive in college and career, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt® has developed a revolutionary mathematics program that motivates students to learn the content critical for success in algebra. MATH 180 is rooted in relevant and realistic world connections and provides a rich landscape for learning in multiple domains. With a focus on the rigors of next generation math standards, MATH 180 leverages the research on effective mathematics teaching and learning and the need for educator support in implementing solutions that provide students with what they need to develop key knowledge and skills essential for college and career success.

The Study

In order to expand on the research base behind the MATH 180 program, a research study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the MATH 180 Digital Access Solution to help striving middle school students attain critical mathematics skills and close the achievement gap.

For the implementation model examined in this study, two schools used the MATH 180 Digital Access Solution in addition to their regular core instruction. The sample consisted of 32 students in the 5th and 6th grades from two public schools in Georgia. Students within these schools were identified by the district as needing additional support in math based on district assessment data. Students worked independently as directed by their teachers in either a computer lab or their math classroom using a mobile cart, which provided them with the necessary technology.

The solution was used for approximately 20 minutes 2–3 times per week for the entire school year. MATH 180 Digital Access allowed students to work at their own pace; guided them through the anchor videos, simulations, lessons, practice problems, and end-of-topic assessments; and provided access to the Brain Arcade for additional practice.

Students were assessed on their level of math achievement in the fall at the beginning of the study, and then a second time in the spring at the end of the study. The assessment used to obtain baseline and end-of-year performance was the Math Inventory®. The Math Inventory is an adaptive, research-based assessment that reliably measures math ability and progress from kindergarten to Algebra II in significantly less time than traditional assessments. Math Inventory assesses students’ math abilities and performance based on the Quantile® Framework for Mathematics, a scientific taxonomy of more than 500 math concepts and skills that places students’ readiness for math instruction and the difficulty of math tasks on the same scale.


Implementation data collected from the MATH 180 Digital Access Solution indicated students used the solution approximately 3 times per week as intended. During the year they successfully completed an average of 13 topics over the course of an average of 67 sessions. Analyses examined growth as a function of Digital Access usage. Students at both schools that used the MATH 180 Digital Access Solution (i.e., used only MATH 180’s digital components) were examined. Results showed that use of the MATH 180 Digital Access Solution was associated with significant improvements in mathematical performance, p < .01 (see the appendix for additional details). On average, students using the solution improved by 159.1 Quantile measures (see Figure 1). This level of growth exceeded the average performance typically seen in this cohort.

FIGURE 1. Average yearly growth for MATH 180 Digital Access users.

Students who used the MATH 180 Digital Access Solution demonstrated significant end-of-year gains on the Math Inventory with growth in Quantile measures of 159Q. This level of growth is significant because it exceeded average yearly expected growth for students in those grades and starting achievement levels. For each grade level the Math Inventory provides performance levels that indicate the Quantile score associated with expected performance for that grade. Students who participated in the MATH 180 study were significantly below proficient for their grade level. Because the Quantile score is on a vertical scale, students must increase their score each year to maintain their performance levels. Students who are below proficient must not only meet these targets but exceed them if they are ever expected to catch up. Students in the MATH 180 study exceeded this needed growth by over 50%, indicating they were making progress in closing this important achievement gap.

This paper describes an initial examination of a Digital Access implementation of the MATH 180 program. Given the modest sample size and initial nature of the examination for this model, results should be interpreted with caution. However, results do point to a potential positive impact for this flexible implementation, including its use as an integral component of a remote or distance learning solution.

Appendix: Statistical Table