Domestic, Elementary / Primary / Junior, High school / Secondary 2, Required, Technology - Written by on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 14:46 - 1 Comment

High Tech Classroom Produces Lackluster Test Scores


photo: flickr user old shoe woman
More technology means more well educated students, right? According to New York Times reporter, Matt Richtel, that equation does not add up. Case in point is Kyrene School District in Arizona. Richtel says Kyrene is part of the $1.89 billion spent on education software, and estimated five times more in hardware in 2010.

There are so many moving parts and variables in flux in the education dilemma. This is a daunting task to isolate one issue and place the burden of the mess on its shoulders. Learning is part teacher. We’ve written here about the move towards student-directed learning. A lot of that thinking orbits around the idea that students need access to technology that will help them steer their education.

Richtel writes about the Arizona classroom that sounds like the perfect environment , but disappointing results:

The class, and the Kyrene School District as a whole, offer what some see as a utopian vision of education’s future. Classrooms are decked out with laptops, big interactive screens and software that drills students on every basic subject. Under a ballot initiative approved in 2005, the district has invested roughly $33 million in such technologies.

The digital push here aims to go far beyond gadgets to transform the very nature of the classroom, turning the teacher into a guide instead of a lecturer, wandering among students who learn at their own pace on Internet-connected devices.

“This is such a dynamic class,” Ms. Furman says of her 21st-century classroom. “I really hope it works.”

Hope and enthusiasm are soaring here. But not test scores.

Since 2005, scores in reading and math have stagnated in Kyrene, even as statewide scores have risen.

via Technology in Schools Faces Questions on Value –



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Paul Glader
Sep 7, 2011 22:41

Here are some thoughts from policy editor Eleni Glader:

Is the tech-centric classroom the new bandwagon? I ask this because the article talks about the history of the push to put technology in U.S. classrooms. There was a report by Clinton’s science and technology committee in 1997 that acknowledged inadequacy of research on technology’s impact in the classroom, but advised schools to adopt it nonetheless. Since then, schools have moved from being equipped with computers and instructional software to placing technology at the center of the classroom, with teaching built around it, without evidence of impact.

Amy Furman, a teacher at Kyrene’s Aprende Middle School uses technology as one learning/teaching tool for writing. She starts with pens and pencils. She feels computers are useful in helping her students to edit their work.

What are the goals of educating students?

i.e. Do we want them to be creative, analytical and critical thinkers? Do we want them to do well on standardized tests? Are standardized tests a good measure of education? What are indicators for success? The article also mentions that technology in the classroom engages students. Is engagement an indicator for success in education?

$ and Cents
In the Kyrene district the budget fell from $95 million this year from $106 million in 2008. The district cannot use funds designated for technology for other things. Teachers who make about 33, 000 – 57,000 have not had a raise since 2008. Many of them have second jobs in retail stores, etc. Money for other supplies in the district is short. Many teachers say they regularly bring in their own supplies for students such as construction paper. Last summer Kyrene paid a company called CCS $500K to replace ceiling-hung projectors in 400 classrooms with Smart Boards. The alternative was to spend $100K to replace the aging projector bulbs, according to Mr. Share, Director of Technology at Kyrene.

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