Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Technology in Education... Any Quantum Leapers?

My last post was about the test score drop at my school and how that is turning into this year's big project.

That has me thinking about kids and achievement and my thoughts are a little murky.  I have more questions than answers.

As a parent, I have two very different kids and I wonder if this testing as the only achievement that counts for kids is really very useful.

I have a test killer.  Ask a question and you will get an answer...  The right answer darn near every time.  She could do fairly high level math in here head since she was three and is the best reader in her class.  What does a test do for her?  Tell us what we already knew?  Practice for a test with a scholarship attached?  The tests seem to define "good enough" for schools.  I am not so sure that is what she needs.

I have one that is killed by tests.  Seven years of school and he is still reversing letters.  He has a diagnosis of ADD.  He can't really work the days of the week without a calendar.  Math facts are hard for him.  Top that off with middle school angst about being different and he is overly anxious at test time.  What does a test do for him?

At this building, we are talking about mandatory summer school for kids that don't do well on a specific test.

I think the tone of that may be a bit vindictive and I am having problems with it as sound educational practice.  Do well on the test or else you will be punished.

Summer school programming that isn't significantly different than during the regular school year really doesn't make sense to me. It just looks like it is more time at a higher temperature. I really don't see the point, we are not baking cookies here.  The subjects being tested have been given twice the time as "the extras" during the regular year... you would think that would lead to whiz bang results.

No.  I get in the current climate that testing as achievement isn't going away.  But it isn't helping my kids either.  So how to beat this goofy system?

I like to believe there is a technology solution out there.  Do you know of anyone that is leveraging the tech to help kids achieve that are getting BIG results when if comes to student achievement?  I am not so sure that drill and practice programs are really where it is at either, they would bore both of my kids.

Any quantum leaps out there?


David Kahl said...
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David Kahl said...

Not sure I have many answers here, and we all suffer the same frustrations you feel regarding testing. There are some things that may help, but I agree with you that punishment disguised as "remediation" isn't the solution.

That said, I do think that the Common Core standards will help, even if they are essentially the ACT folks leading the charge (we'll tell you what to teach, then test you on it...thus scores go up and we all look good). The idea of deeper connections to the material, along with student led questioning and higher order thinking should renew a child's interest in learning, ideally. Taught and assessed properly (the hard part), I see great benefits for all types of learners.

Moreover it keeps our subject relevant, in as much that higher order thinking is exactly what we teach everyday in music. Our challenge as music educators is to apply these learning concepts to our classroom and to continue our service to our students' growth and development as expressive learners.