Friday, December 26, 2008

Laptops Do Not Increase Academic Achievement in Reading and Writing

With the Texas Legislature almost ready to begin its 81st Regular Session in January 2009, I am sure the technology lobbyists are out in full force. For years, they have been trying to pressure Legislators to pass legislation that would force taxpayers to fund laptops for every student in the Texas public schools. The question is:Do laptops on every student's desk raise academic achievement?

In January 2008 a report entitled Evaluation of the Texas Technology Immersion Pilot: Outcomes for the Third Year (2006-07) was released. Based upon four years of solid research, here is the answer to the academic achievement question: "There were no statistically significant effects of immersion on the TAKS reading and Writing."[TAKS -- Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills were the tests used to measure academic achievement for TIP.]It seems that laptops on every desk did not raise student academic achievement in the most important foundational skills a student will ever learn -- reading and writing.

With the downturn in the economy across our nation, it is more important than ever to make sure that our tax dollars are well spent.I hope that Texas Legislators will read the following information about the Texas Technology Immersion Pilot (TIP) and make responsible decisions based upon this scientific research.

BACKGROUND ON THE TEXAS TECHNOLOGY IMMERSION PILOT (TIP)

The Technology Immersion Pilot was created by the Texas Legislature in 2003.Senate Bill 396 called for the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to establish a pilot project to "immerse" schools in wireless laptops. The mandate came without any funding; but through a competitive grant process, the TEA used more than $20 million in federal monies to fund the TIP project. Concurrently, a federal research study has been evaluating whether student achievement improves over time through this immersion in laptops.The Texas Center for Educational Research is a non-profit research organization in Austin that has been working with the TEA for four years (2004-2008) to produce research-based results.

*Since January 2008, two more reports (July 2008 and December 2008) have been produced that emphasize other aspects of laptop immersion; but neither focuses on the lack of academic achievement on TAKS reading and writing.(Please see links posted at the bottom of this article.)

My concern is that the capstone report (December 2008 -- Progress Report on the Long-Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020) that has been produced for the 81st Legislature really seems to "dance around" the most important issue which is the academic achievement.Instead the report puts out information on issues of secondary importance (e.g., whether students and teachers like laptops, whether the immersion has been deep enough, whether students' computer skills have improved, whether discipline problems have decreased, whether teachers have received enough technology training, etc.).These may be interesting to study in and of themselves but do not really get to the heart of the matter which is whether laptops indeed improve students' reading and writing skills appreciably - enough to justify the huge expenditure to provide individual student laptops for all students in Texas.Legislators may be prone to read only the December 2008 TIP report and disregard the January 2008 TIP report that holds the real "meat" of the issue.

More here

1 comment:

FuzzyRider said...

We did the 'laptops for every student' in the Junior High I taught in, and the results were a disaster. Grades and learning went into the crapper, and all the teachers were spending their time being internet cops. The students treated the laptops like rent property (and of course were never required to pay for the ones that were wantonly destroyed- despite signing a contract requiring them to do so).

I work with computers all the time, and I appreciate more than most their power to aid our lives, but the chaos caused by this technological nightmare were enough to make me quit teaching after 17 years in the classroom.

Naturally, the administration ignored the disaster until the evidence that their little experiment had failed was overwhelmimg- like most educrats, 'sounds good' trumps reality every time. It's too bad that we stole approximately two years of learning from a large group of students, and vast quantities of money from overburdened taxpayers.