Standardized Testing Reveals Surprising Shortcomings

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In an Education Week article titled Common-Core Testing Drives ‘Tech Prep’ Priorities, author Catherine Gewertz describes an interesting phenomenon taking place in public schools across the country. As Common-Core testing has moved to computer-based assessments, it seems that teachers and administrators are discovering that the students that they assumed to be “digital natives” actually have some difficulty with skills such as keyboarding, scrolling, and manipulation of a mouse. In response, schools are undertaking what Ms. Gewertz calls “Tech Prep,” test-prep for the technological components of test taking. This prep consists mostly of keyboarding lessons, but also includes practice clicking and dragging objects, scrolling, and other basic computer literacy skills.

I am firmly convinced that this article offers us a fleeting first glimpse at the negative effects of removing direct technology instruction from the regular curriculum. As administrator Emilie Knisley states, “kids do have experience with technology, but it’s touch screen or cellphone.” Unfortunately, the author does not drive the following point home to her readers: our school systems are neglecting to provide a generation of students with a firm foundation in computer literacy- something that has become vital to being a competent, well-rounded citizen and employable adult. Hopefully the technology education pendulum is beginning to swing back towards direct instruction of these key skills.

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