Legends of Learning Selected by U.S. Dept. of Education for $8 Million Grant to Study Game-Based Learning


Fulton, MD, April 3, 2024 – Legends of Learning has been selected to partner with Impact Florida, a non-profit, non-partisan organization advancing excellence in classroom instruction, and WestEd, a national non-partisan leader in research, development, and service focused on education and human development, to examine the efficacy of game-based science instruction in Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS).

An $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) grant program will fund a five-year study to explore how a standards-aligned, game-based learning (GBL) experience will impact student performance on the fifth-grade state standardized science test. The study will include a year-long randomized controlled trial (RCT). Several prior studies of the Legends of Learning platform have already shown significant positive correlations between game platform usage and improvements in test scores. With WestEd leading data collection, analysis, and insights, this study will build upon an established body of evidence.

“We’re excited to be partnering with Impact Florida to test the impact of Learning Universe, our evidence-based, rigorous, game-based learning curriculum, with educators in the state,” said Legends of Learning CEO Dr. Vadim Polikov. “Students are struggling to stay engaged in school, especially post-COVID, and this has led directly to lower test scores in math and science. Games have the power to change that.”

Innovation in delivering education is of paramount importance given current proficiency trends in science education. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted teachers’ ability to engage students in attentive learning experiences. During this period, proficiency scores were negatively impacted, as Florida fifth-grade science performance fell from 55% proficiency in 2018 to 47% in 2021.

In response to pandemic-induced instruction challenges, teachers scrambled for instructional tools to engage a student population that shifted to more screen-based engagement for learning, social connection, and entertainment. Interactive content has become the norm: 6 out of the top 10 content sites used by teachers and students in the 2021- 22 school year were gamified or used games to teach.

“Impact Florida is thrilled to help support research on the potential impact of innovative tools like Legends of Learning and to work with Florida educators in doing so,” said Impact Florida President Mandy Clark. “Increasing engagement is important to student academic growth, and we’re eager to see how game-based learning can tap into students’ existing interests.”  

A prior study of the Legends of Learning platform by WestEd showed up to a 23-percentile point improvement in science achievement scores with usage of the GBL platform.  “This RCT will reveal the direct impact of the Legends of Learning platform on science achievement, building upon our prior findings of a positive association on science achievement with increased usage of the platform,” said Taunya Nesin, Director of STEM Networking and Partnerships at WestEd. “The methodology and scope of this study will help us learn more about best practices for implementation and use of GBL in elementary classrooms and the impact it can have on learning.”

The study will be conducted in partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, one of over 300 districts across 49 states that have partnered with Legends of Learning.  Reacting to the award, Dr. Jose Dotres, MDCPS Superintendent, said, “We pride ourselves on building networks that collaborate to maximize the potential of every student in our district.  That collaboration extends to studies like this, which can provide us with insights that help accelerate student performance.  We’re excited to participate in this research.”

Approximately 280 science teachers and over 6,000 students are projected to participate in the study. The U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research program will provide a grant of $7,997,993 to support the research, which will be matched by an in-kind contribution of more than $800,000 from Legends of Learning. 


To request an interview with Legends of Learning CEO Vadim Polikov, contact Jose Ramos at (925) 261-8586 or jose.ramos@legendsoflearning.com

To request an interview with Impact Florida President Mandy Clark, contact Trey Csar at (415) 215-4994 or trey@impactfl.org.

To request an interview with WestEd staff on this project, contact Gretchen Wright at gretchen.wright@wested.org. 

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