I work in IT for a large school district. We are deluged by vendors hustling their product as the One True Magic Bullet that will lift our standardized test scores above the next No Child Left Behind target. These products with exception involve a big investment of time, money and hardware, plus roll out and training at our school sites.
Our principals, running scared ahead of the advancing and ultimately unreachable targets of NCLB, will eagerly embrace any Shiny Thing that promises them even a little edge. (Not unlike golf enthusiasts or audiophiles, but more desperate.)
One thing I've noticed about these vendors: they all make it very, very difficult to pull data out of their products so that it can be analyzed in tandem with actual test results. You might almost imagine that they didn't want us to look at actual outcomes to verify that their product is actually effective.
Here is my perspective: parental involvement, economic prosperity and English as the student's primary language are the best predictors of a child's academic success. And there is little to nothing that a school district can do to affect these factors. Job growth, a strong middle class, and a culture that values scholarship will do more to promote learning that any number of shiny widgets, no matter how much money Bill and Melinda want to throw at the problem.