Using technology in schools can offer dramatic improvements in learning, student engagement and test scores. Yet according to a New York Times article published this Sunday, this has not been the case for one Arizona school district. Since 2005, the Kyrene School District has been a model education system to proponents of technology based education. However, the purpose of the article is to point out the despite over $30 million in investment in laptops, SMART boards and other technology…test scores have not risen as dramatically as the rest of Arizona. I immediately picked up this article for two reasons 1) I live in Arizona and am curious anytime it makes the cover of a major non-Arizona newspaper and 2) I work for a company developing a technology based product for elementary schools.
The article asks “Why haven’t test scores increased as dramatically as the rest of Arizona?” But when you dig a little deeper you find that test scores in Kyrene have increased since 2005, just not at the same “rate” as the whole state. Almost sounds discouraging until you realize Kyrene has had significantly higher test scores than the state as a whole. So the real issue isn’t just about increasing test scores, but about how much should technology increase test scores? The better you get at any task, the harder it is to make incremental improvements. Going from 60% t0 70% is much easier than going from 80% to 90% at say….the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards on a standardized test. While it’s a fair question to ask, it should be considered in context of performance as a whole. Click here to see the test scores and gains made by Kyrene and Arizona.
Many proponents point out that many of the benefits of technology can’t be easily assessed. After all, student engagement is not directly tested on AIMS. They also realize that some “hard” metrics are needed to sell the idea that technology is beneficial in the classroom. This is why I’m so fortunate to be working at Sokikom, I get to work on a game that not only keeps students engaged and learning…it provides valuable assessment tools the educator can use to track student progress.
What effect do you think technology has on education and can it be measured?