A recent study from the Center for American Progress concludes
that too many students are using technology for lower-order skills,
such as drill and practice programs. The report, “Are Schools Getting
a Big Enough Bang for Their Education Technology Buck?” argues
that, in order to compete globally, students must be prepared to
use computers in more advanced ways and sets forth a series of
recommendations aimed at helping schools make the most of their
investments in technology. Among the findings are the following:
■ Students often use technology for basic skills. More than a
third of middle school math students regularly used a computer
for drill and practice. In contrast, only 24 percent of middle
school students regularly used spreadsheets for their math
assignments, and just 17 percent regularly used statistical
programs in math class.
■ States are not looking at what sorts of outcomes they are
getting for their technology spending. The Center did a
systematic survey of state department of education Web sites
from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and found no
evidence that any state had conducted a large-scale technology
ROI study. It appears that states instead collect data only on
the presence of technology, such as the number of schools with
high-speed Internet access.
■ Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely
to have access to more rigorous technology opportunities.
Forty-one percent of eighth-grade math students from high poverty
backgrounds, for instance, regularly used computers for
drill and practice. In contrast, just 29 percent of middle school
students from wealthier backgrounds used the computers for
the same purpose.