Sunday, September 4, 2011

New York Times edtech article fails the test!

The front page of today's New York Times boasted an article about the "failure" of technology in the classroom. Titled, In Classroom of the Future, Stagnant Scores , the article describes a school in Arizona where, despite a huge investment in technology, there hasn't been an increase in test scores.

The article is based on one school in one town in Arizona, hardly a statistically significant sample. Larry Cuban, an outspoken critic of technology in schools since the early 1990s, is quoted multiple times. Not one of the many experts in the field of educational technology, whom we know and love, was interviewed (or at least quoted) in the article. The only reason given for the failure of technology is a lack of increase in test scores in a district that already had high test scores. Finally, there was no test comparing the technology skills of students in this school to any other school in the state.

Clearly, I'm not thrilled with the article.
What did you think?

12 comments:

Dr. Tom said...

One would fondly hope that empowering uses of tech tools for project-based learning would have little to do with the snippets of irrelevance that standardized tests measure.

Heather G said...

Hi Liz, I was disappointed with the article. The basic question Eduarda Schroder asked at the end of the article, "Do we need computers to learn?" But the answer to that question is, To learn what? When learning is measured by standardized test scores, then what are kids really learning? What if we just gave kids a software program that only did test prep, would then kids be "learning"? I know in my classroom (I teach 1st grade in an international school), we use a balance of tech and.... PAPER AND PENCILS! I felt a bit infuriated with the insinuation that if you are teaching with technology that you are not using any of the "traditional" methods of teaching, I think its about a balance. Thanks for blogging about it. Heather

mrdardy said...

The article was rife with problems. Why the unquestioned reliance on standardized test results as THE metric to use for educational progress? Why dismiss the important connection between tech in the classroom and increased teacher training? Why no mention of how devilishly hard it is to ever clearly identify cause and effect in these types of studies? I know that the standards are different for this kind of reporting than they are for classroom work, but I would have been eviscerated by my professors for turning this in. Also - the use of Larry Cuban with no counter is nearly criminal. Most reading the article will not know who he is and what his crusade is, but they'll see he is from Stanford.

Lucy Gray said...

Here's another follow up article from Salon that disturbs me even more:

http://shar.es/HRNjG

Amanda Killough said...

My name is Amanda and I am with EDM 310 from South Alabama.
When I read your post it disappointed me as well. How can anyone consider one city for an overall statistic of all schools. I would hope with all the technological advances in today's society, that teachers along with students and their parents would utilize these services and help their children do better. Also why chose a school that is already doing well on exams and test to see if they do even better. Instead to chose a school where much improvement could actually be seen. Along that that, not knowing the skill level of the students with the new technologies is just another issue which is necessary for factoring in if the school actually was increasing their performance on exams. I would hope however, that other schools would not use this article for making their decision whether or not to keep advancing technology in their own school systems. Here is the link to my class blog: http://edm310.blogspot.com/ and my twitter address is @amandakillough

Gretchen McPherson said...

Ms. Smith,
You make a valid point that one school's implementation of expensive technology to raise test scores does not represent the overall outcome of what should be a larger sample group for purposes of effectiveness research.
I think articles like this one that are biased and do not represent a more realistic time frame and sample size can negatively affect parents' and policy-makers' view of how beneficial technology can be to the classroom.
Thanks for making a great argument for educators everywhere!

EDM310ClassBlog

I♡Kindergarten! said...

Technology is a tool for teaching, a tool for learning. As a teacher in a Memphis City School, technology opens the door for my students to the world outside their community. It opens the door to a fast-growing technological society. The article focused so much on state tests like always and not the fundamental growth of our students. Using power points or videos add to the lesson objective, while keeping our students attentive and engaged. Before this technology initiative, our test scores were already declining. Teachers are finding ways through technology to engage all learning styles in the classroom. Society needs to focus on researching the decline of student performance and that starts from home.

Educational Technology said...

Nice piece of information!
Good blog!
Educational technology is changing the whole eductional system worldwide


Keep blogging
Harry

Mallory Moon said...

Ms. Davis,
I am a student in edm310 at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed reading your article. I agree with your reasoning of the article. I too disagree, I believe that technology is great! It should be should in schools and just because one school in a small town did not see a difference, this should not affect other schools thinking about technology. Children these days are growing up in a world that is full of technology. Technology is a great source for learning.

Mallory Moon said...

Ms. Davis,
I am a student in edm310 at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed reading your article. I agree with your reasoning of the article. I too disagree, I believe that technology is great! It should be should in schools and just because one school in a small town did not see a difference, this should not affect other schools thinking about technology. Children these days are growing up in a world that is full of technology. Technology is a great source for learning.

Megs5391 said...

It would be interesting to see what would happen if technology was suddenly removed from the classrooms. I think many students would suffer from this and there would definitely be a change in stagnant test scores; they would all decline. I have never observed a classroom in which technology is preventing a student from reaching full potential. If anything, students seem to learn better if the method is something they can relate too.

karen M. said...

I am a junior kindergarten teacher. Despite the fact that my students are very young, they are highly motivated by and engaged with technology. For Show andTell, many of them bring their IPads to show a favorite game they like to play, or they talk about loading discs into the DVR to watch their favorite movie. When I was growing up, I had never heard of half of the computer related things my young students talk about, let alone know what to do with them. But that's what's so great about today's youths--they are preparing to work in a highly technological world. It would be foolhardy to think that our children would not benefit from schools that cater to this need. Further, technology is where most student's interests lie. Why not take advantage of something they are already do outside of school and link it to classroom instruction? Isn't that what good education is all about?