Our Research - Product Certifications

Our Research

Product Certifications Our Research

Digital Promise launched Product Certifications to provide education leaders with trustworthy, reliable and transparent information about products and to provide products with access to clearly articulated purchaser expectations and needs.

Digital Promise launched Products Certifications after partnering with education leaders, nonprofits, and research institutes for a decade to improve the edtech market.

Select the Right Edtech: How to Leverage Certified Products During the Procurement Process

Noakes, Sierra (Digital Promise, 2023)

With over 150 certifications awarded, districts can now integrate questions about products’ certification status in existing evaluation processes. Through learning sessions with district leaders, we have developed templates to support districts in seamlessly incorporating Product Certifications as evidence in evaluation processes.

An Overlooked Indicator of Edtech Quality: The Use of Learning Sciences Research

Van Nostrand, Parker; Noakes, Sierra; Shah, Zohal; Luke Luna, Christina (Digital Promise, 2022)

This report discusses why education leaders should leverage an edtech product’s research-basis to determine the quality of the tool. Through survey results and five product case study interviews, we examine the importance of using learning sciences research as a basis for edtech design. Our analysis highlights the impact that research-based design has on both learner outcomes and the ability for a company to communicate its message. Finally, we reveal changes made to this certification for its 2022 relaunch.

Designing Edtech that Matters for Learning: Research-Based Design Product Certifications

Noakes, Sierra, Richendollar, Tyler, Xiao, Wendy, & Luke, Christina (Digital Promise, 2020)

By developing product certifications aligned to educators’ top priorities, we hope to add transparency and accountability to the edtech industry. Learn how we are working to achieve this vision in our latest report.

Market Signals for Research-Based Innovations

Noakes, Sierra & Luke, Christina (Digital Promise, 2019)

Download the new report on our product certification efforts, Market Signals for Research-Based Innovations, to learn more about Digital Promise’s inaugural product certification.

Designing for Learner Variability: Examining the Impact of Research-based Edtech in the Classroom

Tare, Medha & Shell, Alison R. (Digital Promise, 2019)

Download the new report to learn more about our recent study examining the efficacy of translating research-based educational strategies into a widely-used literacy edtech platform to support learner variability.

Learner Variability Is the Rule, Not the Exception

Pape, Barbara (Digital Promise, 2018)

Each of us go to school with a backpack filled with very different experiences that we draw from to master content, create meaning, work in groups, share our voice, and achieve our potential. This report defines learner variability and explains that understanding and addressing our differences will, in fact, help us be confident learners in school and beyond.

Using Research in Ed-Tech: How ed-tech companies use research to make better products

Simone, Christa & Gross, Kelsey (Digital Promise, 2017)

Check out what Digital Promise, in collaboration with Teachers College, Columbia University, learned after issuing a call for developers to tell us how they use research. Download the report to learn more.

Explore Digital Promise’s Research

Digital Promise contributes to the education and learning sciences field by publishing research, implementation, and evaluation studies. Our reports on topics of interest—including learner variability, maker education, and family engagement—put us in conversation with policymakers and thought leaders on the issues facing education leaders today.


The League of Innovative Schools surfaced challenges around edtech selection and procurement.


Product Certifications 2013






Digital Promise partnered with IDEO to explore ways to further develop the edtech market in K-12 districts, through evolving the edtech procurement processes. This study recommended a need for greater collaboration across vendors/districts, within districts, and across districts. One promising method districts were using to inform their decisions was piloting.


Product Certifications 2014

Digital Promise partnered with Johns Hopkins University to study 9 school districts while they conducted pilots using various edtech tools. We focused on learning about the processes they were using and understanding how to share those best practices with others to increase evidence-based decision-making.


ProductCerts 2015

Digital Promise partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to conduct 3 pilots of learning tools while using feedback loops to iterate and improve on products. Simultaneously, we coordinated 6 pilots of middle school math tools and 3 pilots geared toward summer learning loss. As we conducted more pilots, we refined and documented the ideal pilot process.


ProductCerts 2016

Digital Promise launched the Edtech Pilot Framework to share our synthesized 8-step pilot process, along with over 150 free, open-source tools and resources. Digital Promise and Teachers College at Columbia University led the Research-Based Products Campaign to incentivize the field to use research in product design and development. Digital Promise also published “Using Research in Ed Tech” to offer product teams guidance around research use in R&D.


Product Certs 2017

Digital Promise partnered with 2 districts to pilot 2 edtech products intended to support English Learners. Through this work, Digital Promise learned that few products are designed for marginalized learner populations. Our report shared best practices for edtech design to attend to diverse learner needs as well as pilot findings.


Product Certs 2018

Digital Promise invited educators to join our third professional learning cohort, representing 13 districts piloting 13 unique edtech products and innovative programs. Throughout the 3 PLCs, every participant reported an increased understanding of the edtech pilot process and agreed that evidence is important to decision-making. In addition, we published “Use Research Like A Champion” to share best practices for building districts’ research capacity, particularly around piloting.


Product Certs 2019

Districts continue to share that edtech selection is challenging. Through a listening tour with more than 50 stakeholders, Digital Promise sought diverse perspectives to understand how to ease product discovery and selection for education leaders. We aim to develop a solution that will help consumers identify high-quality edtech tools designed using research that attend to educators’ and learners’ authentic needs.


Product Certs 2020

Introduced the first product certifications with the launch of the Research-Based Design certification in February and the Learner Variability certification in October.


Partnered with nonprofits to develop new product certifications, such as Prioritizing Racial Equity in AI Design with the Edtech Equity Project and the Data Interoperability Certification with Project Unicorn. Product Certifications are also shared on widely accessed platforms, such as ISTE’s EdSurge Product Index and EdCuration. Announced the multi-organizational effort to establish easy access to information about edtech quality.

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