Buying Computers for the Wrong Reason

CC credit: Test Taker by Enokson

CC credit: Test Taker by Enokson

I had the opportunity to meet with ISTE leaders from across New England a few weeks ago to do some regional planning.  We talked about a lot of things but one topic that was on the top of our minds were the requirements for computer based Common Core assessments.  How big would the device need to be?  Would the tests work on tablets, on Chromebooks?  How many computers would you need?  The consensus was that our schools need more devices in students hands to take these assessments and our students would need to be trained to be able to take these assessments in an online format.

When I hear these arguments my principal senses start tingling and I think of how I have a new argument for technology purchases.  “We have to buy more computers so our students can pass the new test.”  But the more I thought about it, this is a pretty lousy argument.  Sure I’d like the kids to have more devices, but not so they can pass a test.  We waste so much time and money worrying about test scores.  We shouldn’t be investing in technology to increase test scores, we should be investing in technology because our students need digital age tools for learning.  How about buying more devices so technology can be integrated into more subjects.  Why not buy more digital devices to increase access to a variety of information sources.  We should be investing in technology to expand thinking and learning.

You might be thinking I have forgotten all about the Common Core standards in my quest for technology integration but I haven’t.  The Common Core organization itself calls for students to use “information efficiently, and …integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline”  Being “college and career ready” is about being able to communicate and analyse information from a variety of sources.  It’s not about simply being able to pass a test.  So, yes, let’s get more digital devices for our students to learn but not for the Common Core assessments.



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