Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Are there enough Computers in the District to Participate in High stakes Testing Online?

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Everyone in the District should read this article entitled, Common Core vs. Common Sense, recently published in Education Week. There is much preparation to be done. There is no time to waste.

The Federal, State and Local Educational big wigs are very adamant about this standardized testing initiative. No one seems to be concerned that these tests are always slanted in favor of the persons creating the assessment tool. Many Educators have been complaining about the bias of standardized tests for years. Is no one even curious as to why the entire Nation has been maneuvered into a place of acquiescence in relation to standardized tests?  

There is one other very important factor that supporters of this educational reform initiative are intent on ignoring.  TECHNOLOGY.

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There are districts that tend towards allowing the general public to believe that their students are more technologically prepared than they really are. The real deal is that there are many teachers who are not up to par technically. For real. Some districts are in such deep denial that they go along willy nilly thinking or fronting that the majority of students in the district have access to home computers. They naively suggest that the homework assignments that are only available on the Internet do not leave a large part of the student population behind. Some Title I districts have actually gone paperless. Well, Gee. These powerful people do not frequent the Public Library, that has also experienced recent cuts, where they will realize that the number of computers available for student use is not sufficient.

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Will EPSD be ready to satisfy this initiative by 2013 - 2014 when the online testing is scheduled to begin. There were questions regarding the ability of teachers to raise test scores. There were no questions about whether or not the teachers have all of the materials needed in order to prepare students to take these tests online. Did anyone even think about the fact that preparation on the computer must also be part of the process to ready students for this? The unbelievable part of this is that there are districts that cannot possibly prepare themselves for this initiative in time. (Unless, of course, they stop wasting time on issues that do not advance student achievement.)

Why then, is no one complaining? Is this a recipe for failure?
1. Where is the technology?
     For example, the entire 4th grade is to be given the renamed NJASK online. How?
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  • Are students in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade already being trained diligently on the computer?
  • Do keyboarding lessons exist in these grades? 
  • Do keyboarding lessons exist in any grades?
  • Are any students being trained on Word,  Excel or Office?
  • Students are often required to type essays and reports. Is this fair? When did they learn to use the keyboard? Is it safe or fair to assume that every student is prepared to use the computer.
  • How many of you who are reading this article are capable of typing without looking at the keys? Let us all chant Mavis Beacon or some other typing program together in unison.
  • Are parents being held responsible to teach students how to use the keyboard? Did anyone think to survey the number of students who live in homes where the Internet is not available.
  • Has anyone estimated how many computers will be needed in the 4th, 8th or 11th grade in 2013 -2014?
  • Does every school have a computer lab with sufficient computers to be used for this purpose? 
2. Are funds being put aside to repair, recondition, and or purchase enough new computers for each benchmark grade level where testing is mandated? 

My 15 year old granddaughter learned to point, click and play games on the computer when she was 2 years old. The first grader doesn't like it as much, but she has learned to use the laptop without a mouse and is able to play educational games for a while. She prefers her coloring books and crayons. My 3 year old grandson has forsaken television for the computer and the stimulation from the games available. What about the children who do not have this exposure at home? How is the school system preparing them to take an online standardized test?

There is much to be done in order to plan for this "online testing". Were there enough number two pencils available during the last test? When will we begin?

                                        How are the children?

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