Saturday, April 10, 2021

Carranza's new gig with IXL Learning, and its defective and stressful product that DOE has paid millions for & subjected NYC students to use

In the NY Post today, Sue Edelman wrote an expose of an ed tech company, IXL Learning, that recently hired former DOE Chancellor Richard Carranza two weeks after he left office.  As I was quoted as saying, 

"I have no gripe about Carranza getting whatever job he can after the stressful experience he was put through in NYC. However, he shouldn’t be working to promote a product with such distressing impact on kids...No district should use it."

Why did I say that?  Check out the abysmal parent reviews of this product at Commonsense Media, including this comment:IXL is an absolutely disgusting method of teaching children.”  

Check out the even worse student reviews, like this one: "I think that IXL, is the worst site ever created. My teacher gives us lessons daily, and it's pure torture. Shouldn't this be illegal because it is considered child abuse?”  

Or this one: "Ixl causes kids a lot of stress and anxiety. it is a terrible learning website and i really don't recommend it. i come home crying everyday because of ixl. please, please save your children from this devil website! PLEASE SAVE YOURSELF! i have even thought about leaving my school so i wouldn't have to do it. i HATE it. so much."

I have never seen such terrible reviews for any ed tech product.  

IXL also gets very poor privacy ratings from Commonsense Media, earning a "WARNING" and a low grade of 69:

"The terms of IXL do not disclose whether users can interact with trusted or untrusted users on the service or whether a child or student's personal information can be displayed publicly in any way. ... the terms do not disclose whether IXL may sell data from school or parent users to third parties. ...the terms state that IXL and their third-party partners may use cookies and tracking technologies for the purpose of displaying advertisements on other websites or online services on their behalf. ... IXL works with third-party online advertising networks which use technology to recognize a user's browser or device and to collect information about their visit to IXL in order to provide customized content, advertising, and commercial messages to school, teacher or district administrative users and other non-student users on other websites or services, or on other devices they may use."

It's not even clear if the use of IXL complies with NY state's student privacy law, since DOE has failed to post the privacy provisions of its contract with the company, despite the fact that the state law and regs require this.

Nevertheless, the DOE has preloaded IXL on every one of the more than 400,000 Ipads purchased for NYC students, and has paid IXL about $5.6 million since 2011.  This amount greatly exceeds the maximum payments specified in the DOE's most recent contract with the company of $1,041,869, and thus may be "against procurement rules," as the NY Post article reports.

On its website, IXL has also made false claims that its programs have been "proven effective” and that research “has shown over and over that IXL produces real results.” 

Yet as an article in Hechinger Report points out, "IXL’s research simply compares state test scores in schools where more than 70 percent of students use their program with state test scores in other schools. This analysis ignores other initiatives happening in those schools and the characteristics of the teachers and students that might influence performance. ...IXL declined to comment on critiques that its studies weren’t adequately designed to make conclusions about the impact of its program on student test scores."

More wasted millions by DOE that could have been far better invested in helping kids learn, instead of subjecting them to a program that provokes unneeded anxiety and distress and that may violate their privacy.


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