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Does technology boost student achievement?

September 5, 2011

The answer turns out to be difficult to pin down in this fascinating piece from The New York Times.

Plenty of talk and money goes into new technology for the classroom these days, whether that means white boards, online classes or libraries without any actual books. What seems less clear is how this is affecting the way teachers teach and the way students learn.

Clearly we live in an era when children are encountering technology earlier and earlier, and where they will need a high level of comfort with computers to function in most workplaces.

At the same time, technology alone is not likely to solve all of the problems facing public education. It bears noting that while the Arizona school district profiled by NYT did not see an increase in test scores after significant technology spending, their students already had proficiency levels well above the state average.

A better question might be whether testing should change to reflect computer literacy as a priority. I would also want to know what happens to these students as they complete high school, and whether their early exposure to computers in the classroom has any effect on the professions they choose.

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