Tech & Ed | Personalized Learning | Gamification | International Ed | Mobile Learning

This week I read and analysed the article by Matt Richtel in the New York Times, “In School of the Future, Stagnant Scores” that looked at the inclusion of technology in Arizona’s Kyrene school district in 2005. Though tens of millions of dollars were spent on the new technology, scores did not go up in Kyrene’s schools (though they did rise at the statewide level). Richtel posits that the expenditure on technology wasn’t worth it without “proof” that student achievement–measured by high-stakes tests–improved. My argument is that the type of learning done with the new technology isn’t what is assessed in this outdated high-stakes exams…

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/technology/technology-in-schools-faces-questions-on-value.html

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Comments on: "New-Age Learning, Stone-Age Testing" (6)

  1. I am going to say a couple of things that you might not appreciate here…haha
    I am mainly taking this ‘support for standardized testing’ stance as a default because I personally cannot see how students can be evaluated on a national scale in a cost-effective and efficient, yet, “fair” way.

    I have this argument (whether to use standardized tests as a way of evaluating student knowledge) quite often with my fellow teacher friends and it is interesting to hear what they have to say. So I grew up taking tests and having only tests as an indicator of what I have learned till, of course, I came to this great country, U.S.A.! ha!

    Till I came here for my latter two years of high school, I did not even know a student could be evaluated through essays, portfolios, performances (such as reciting a poem, spoken word, etc.), alternative options that were proposed by the student and for the student. And don’t get me wrong, I loved those options and thought it was a great way of evaluating how much we have grown, matured, and learned over the courses, years, and school time.

    However, I also went to a school where every three to four students had one advisor and the classrooms were never over 20 students at a time. Before I came to the States, I had a number and I was in the 40s, because numbers were given to students by last name and I was toward the end and there were nearly 40 to 50 students per class on average. So of course there were no writing assignments and no time for teachers to grade every single student’s portfolio, not that we had one.

    I am thinking about similar circumstances. In general, U.S. classrooms are smaller than the ones I am used to growing up. However, if every student wanted to be evaluated in a certain way that seemed “fair” to measure their success in the course that would be so much work for the teachers. And if college admission’s had to evaluate different kinds of packets that are supposedly representing candidates for their schools it would take ages to make decisions and those decisions, I believe, would be even more subjective than they are now. So is not that why we kind of “have to” stick to standardized tests? I hate them! I really do! And I am not a great test taker myself, but I would not know how I could have shown who I really am, what I am really made of, without them (college admission people, for example) having to spend an enormous amount time with me so I can explain and show what I have been through and how much I have grown through schooling.

    What do you think? I feel like whatever standardized test we make nobody is ever going to be happy with it. No matter how great the test allegedly tests the students’ abilities some are not going to do well and some are not going to be satisfied to be evaluated that way. But…is not that just what life is?

  2. Sorry, I just realized there are a lot of typos and run-on sentences. Do tell if something does not make sense… >_<

  3. Christine Hoyt said:

    I can understand where Maria is coming from, in terms of us needing some type of assessment in place. However, I agree with Lindsey that it is almost embarrassing at this point that we seem to be investing all this money in putting technology in the classroom, but we are not spending any time or money on redesigning the assessment tools we use to measure student success.

    Obviously, that would be a huge undertaking, but I keep hearing that there is this national dialogue for “education reform” and so far it just seems like a whole lot of chatter, and not a lot of action. Or, the action is to replace all the math and science textbooks with laptops (which just happened in a school district in Indiana-http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/19/education/19textbooks.html?ref=education) and then not discuss how assessments need to be adjusted.

    Why does it feel like we are only having half a conversation?

    • couldn’t agree more Christine and Lindsey……i live in a privledged school district that teaches to Honors kids who (in my humble opinion) also happen to be kids who are rule followers and good test takers. Being average on a national level is ranked below average in this district. There is no REAL understanding of different learning styles among the marjority of teachers and more importantly there is still a stigma attached to kids who do not fit the norm. I speak as a parent of daughter who struggles enough with self esteem in MIDDLE school, and is also dealing with having ADHD. I’m stunned at the ignorance around this.

  4. I love to read the comments from Maria and Christine, people who could experience two sides of standardized test.

    In Asia, standardized test is big, especially, those people who would like to go to higher education. I read an article about educational system and standardized test in Korea. The students spend more than 60% of their times for educational on-task working. Since there are limited seats for university students, students need to work very hard in high schools and attend test preparation – tuition schools after 4 p.m. in order to make sure that they get highest scores for universities’ admissions. The students in Korea who want to attend IVY league universities in U.S., needs to exclusively attend special preparation schools that require students to study till 11 p.m. In addition, students might need to do their homework until 3 a.m. and go to study in the morning. Without a doubt, Korea is in the third ranking of international students in U.S., following China and India. From the country under the war, today Korea becomes a powerful nation with high technology, high exporting volumes, and high economical growth.

    To incorporate technology in the test in order to prove that technology pays off as we wish to see from students in the 21st century. In addition to revisit our standardized test, we need to really ask ourselves – can we really reengineer our admission process?

  5. Maria,

    Thanks for offering your perspective. I agree with you that we have to have *some* way of assessing students’ achievement, otherwise what’s the point, right? The standardized tests we have in America are AWFUL though and don’t do what thy purport to do. If you haven’t read it yet, check out the short but excellent book “The Truth About Testing” by W. James Popham, who has eye-opening information I believe all of us should know.

    Christine and Bank, thanks for the comments. I *does* seem silly to put all this technology into schools and put so much pressure on students to perform well on tests, but then not even make sure that the tests measure what we want them to measure?!

    In the case of my case study, it wasn’t the STUDENTS that should have been tested, but rather, the effect of the technology ON the students, but since the tests were just the same old tests, it was my argument that it is a flawed ‘experiment’ to make an assumption about technology inclusion (and how it “failed” or was a waste of money) based on assessments that don’t test the students’ new skills and abilities since the inclusion of the technology (hope that makes sense! LOL).

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