Technology’s Effects December 28, 2005Posted by Michael McVey in Assessment, Funding.
Recently, another study was released suggesting no significant difference on test scores from the influence of the technology. The study looked at the impact of the E-Rate federal program, which has spent almost two billion a year since 1998 to bridge the “digital divide” between schools in rich and poor districts.
While the research confirmed that the number of poor schools going online increased dramatically, the fact that more students had access to the Internet had zero impact on each school’s performance on the Stanford Achievement Test, which has been administered in California since 1997.
“We didn’t find any evidence that increased access to the Internet led to improved test scores,” Jonathan Guryan, associate professor of economics at the university’s Graduate School of Business, said.
As to why Internet access didn’t boost student learning, Guryan said it was possible the schools did not know how to make effective use of the Web, or it’s just not an effective way to boost test scores.
Actually, it is somewhat reassuring to me that scores on these tests have not plummeted with students spending so much time on the Internet. Perhaps the real issue is that we are making a smooth transition to a completely different way of intereacting with information in the world.
This all begs the question about the efficacy of the Stanford Acheivement Test and what it was designed to test and how it is designed to test it. Again, if scores have not dropped over the years despite increased access to the Internet it may be an indicator that the tests have not kept pace with new assessment techniques.
So it should come as no surprise that one state is considering legislating computerized examinations for elementary and middle schools. The biggest drawback with standardized tests, aside from their extremely limited scope, is that it took too long for results to get back into the hands of teachers so they could effect change in the classroom. Advocated of standardized tests have often cited the feedback the tests provide as a rationalization for their existence but in reality this is far from the truth.
Interestingly, some states have decided that technology in the classroom is worth spending money on. Soon all seventh grade students in Illinois will receive laptop computers. Results of studies conducted in Henrico County in Virginia were encouraging enough to warrant such an expense. In Henrico County, students recorded the highest ever scores on the SAT, both verbal and math, in four years on the program.