Laptop Initiatives and Standardized Testing

I work in a school district that embraces technology – all of the high schools have laptops for their students and the elementary and middle schools have Alphasmarts, or laptops for schools who have been blessed with  a TIP grant, or at least access to computer labs and/or a few desktops in every classroom.  Sounds pretty great, huh?

Unfortunately, I also work in a state where the TAKS test directly and indirectly plays a part in just about every decision that is made by the teachers and administrators in our district.  Trying to balance technology use and standardized test scores is challenging.  Trying to convince the community, students, parents, teachers, and administrators that technology implementation is paramount even if there is no current data to illustrate that it raises test scores is even more difficult, so I can’t say I was thrilled when I read this article in the Dallas Morning News.

I would like to say that the technology implementation in Irving ISD has been easy and seamless, but it hasn’t.  It has been a struggle at times, but we have made strides and have students and teachers who do amazing things with their laptops, and we have students and teachers who have chosen to do not much constructive with their laptops; however, I think the good out weighs the bad. 

It takes time to integrate effective change, and innovative technology teachers should be given this time to explore and create without the ever present fear of the test  hanging over their heads.  But unfortunately, this is not the case.  Hopefully, these innovative students and teachers will continue to persevere and as time passes maybe the community and the media will realize that there is much more to a good education than  TAKS scores. 

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Explore posts in the same categories: 1 to 1, Academy, Dallasmorningnews, Edtech News, Education, High School, IISD, Laptops, one to one, Standardized Testing, TAKS, Technology, TIP grant

6 Comments on “Laptop Initiatives and Standardized Testing”

  1. Andrew Pass Says:

    I think that one of the greatest discussions missing from the blogosphere is on testing and standards and the way that technology can support student learning so that students can pass tests and master standards. Perhaps educational bloggers haven’t discussed this topic because they don’t think that standards are the right way to go in education. But our own perspectives on standards and standardized tests don’t matter that much. Standards are here to stay. If we don’t figure out how to integrate technology and teaching for standards mastery many teachers won’t touch technology. I’m thankful that you began to address this issue. But I think more of us need to write on it.

    Andrew Pass
    http://www.Pass-Ed.com/blogger.html


  2. […] My Flickr Photos More Photos « Laptop Initiatives and Standardized Testing […]

  3. Wesley Fryer Says:

    I agree with you Andrew, we definitely need to take up the issue of standards in edublogs– write about them, debate them, and collaboratively find better ways to address and deal with them. But I strongly disagree that our voices and opinions don’t matter. They do. They matter because we shape each other’s thoughts and practices whenever we read and respond to each other. I agree that the entire standards movement is not likely to reverse direction or course based solely on the writing of a few edubloggers, but I do know that IDEAS MATTER and the ideas many are writing, reflecting, and responding on and to here in the edublogosphere are making a difference now. They have made a difference in the things I do as a teacher myself, and as a professional development collaborator with teachers.

    I feel strongly that the legislative agenda on high stakes testing is poorly conceived and counterproductive. I believe that as educators and moral professionals, we have obligations to act in the best interests of students– not just politicians whose primary mission seems often to just get re-elected at all costs– and to respond to administrators who at times can be more led by perceptions of fear rather than a vision for what is best for children and our communities.

    Our discussions about standards and testing should be far ranging, and I think out-of-the-box ideas should be welcomed as well as vigorously analyzed/critiqued. But I don’t think we should ever deceive ourselves with the idea that our own perceptions, ideas, dreams and visions don’t matter. They do, both in the narrow spheres of experiences where we each live separate lives, and in a broader senses– because we are all connected via the Internet ether in a powerful way that I think few are truly able to appreciate– because our life experiences are by nature so limited.

    Thanks for sharing your blog address and your thoughts, I’ll look forward to reading more of what you think. We change the world one conversation at a time– that is what blogging can and should be all about for educators, and what education itself is about.


  4. […] I posted the following as a comment response to Andrew Pass, who was commenting on Angela Stevens’s post “Laptop Initiatives and Standardized Testing.” I feel strongly about this, so I’m reposting here with a few additional thoughts. The part of Andrew’s comment I responded to was: Perhaps educational bloggers haven’t discussed this topic [standards and high stakes testing] because they don’t think that standards are the right way to go in education. But our own perspectives on standards and standardized tests don’t matter that much. Standards are here to stay. If we don’t figure out how to integrate technology and teaching for standards mastery many teachers won’t touch technology. […]

  5. John Brown Says:

    It was refreshing for me too to read an intelligent perspective on laptops in schools. Mr. Fryer’s comment

    “I would counter that most students today, who are “digital natives,” are not “natural fits” for the proto-typical classroom of the 1800s which persists to this day in many parts of the United States. Does computer technology “fit” into our present economy, political culture, and social environment? Of course. The question should not be “Does technology fit into my traditional way of teaching my class in high school?” but rather “How can I modify and further improve the learning environment, ongoing assessment methods, and opportunities I provide students to interact with each other and our curriculum?””

    hits the nail on the head.

    He also makes a critical point in his reponse to your previous post with

    “I feel strongly that the legislative agenda on high stakes testing is poorly conceived and counterproductive. I believe that as educators and moral professionals, we have obligations to act in the best interests of students– not just politicians whose primary mission seems often to just get re-elected at all costs– and to respond to administrators who at times can be more led by perceptions of fear rather than a vision for what is best for children and our communities.”

    I’m old and retired! In my nomadic life I use technology everyday to accomplish communication, financial, and informational tasks necessary to my life style. I have yet to factor a quadratic, use a periodic table, or answer five questions to ensure that I understood something I just read. On the other hand, I make use everyday of spreadsheets, word processing, email, search engines and a host of bookmarked websites. I’m not doing anything! Imagine how important these skills must be to individuals involved in work everyday!

    It seems to me to be obvious that preparing students to effectively use technology as a life tool is fundamental to a strong high school education. To measure the value of providing technology and technology instruction to students in terms of scores on pencil and paper tests of obsolete subject matter is absurd.

    The same applies to other aspects of the educational program at The Academy that are aimed at preparing students for their future role rather than at the traditional four subject area academic objectives. The roles of team teaching, core competencies, curriculum integration, and career-related education stand beside technology in making the school’s program uniquely relevant for its students.

    I have heard that The Academy’s test scores were, in general, better than those for other high schools within the same district. I would urge that the school not fall into the trap of sighting these scores as some sort of proof of success. By doing so the staff buys into the notion that the scores are indeed a measure of success. Rejoice in the fact that higher scores keep the monkey off your back, but strive to find more meaningful assessments of success in preparing students for life.

    I believe that The Academy should begin looking to its alumni for that proof. Follow up studies on the success of graduates both in terms of further education and career success should begin now. Surveys of alumni relating to how relevant and effective their high school education has proven to be need to be done and compared to a control group from traditional schools. It will take a few years to compile enough data. But ultimately an irrefutable argument can be built that the program at The Academy is more effective at accomplishing the true purpose of high school education, preparation for life.


  6. Andrew, Wesley and John –

    Thank you all for your insightful comments. These are the conversations we need to be having in our communities and in our schools!

    Standardized testing may be here to stay (hopefully not) so we are going to have to find a way to mesh effective technology implementation, authentic learning and testing.


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