A commentary in Business Week by U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, a Democrat from Wisconsin, states that the nation's schools are failing to prepare children to compete in the global economy. Kind was responding to a recent study which found that using software in schools has little or no effect on student's performance.
Kind stresses the importance of the types of tools we use to educate children and how we evaluate them. So the question for educators, in light of this recent study, is how do we measure the effectiveness of the tools, and whether this nation should only invest in tools whose effectiveness can be measured through test scores.
The answer to that question should be no. This study attempts to show the ineffectiveness of educational technology. Instead it simply reveals the Bush Administration's tunnel vision on the uses and value of it.
He goes on to say that with the software we employ in schools today, "students gain technology skills and knowledge they will need to compete in the 21st-century economy." Kind criticizes the study because it focused solely on whether one aspect of technology—education software—improved test scores.
No single tool, including the best textbook, can do that. Rather, the Education Dept. should assess a comprehensive education-technology program—-one that incorporates sound content, professional development in using and incorporating technology into the classroom, and parental involvement initiatives—and measure its impact on teaching and learning. By failing to review this type of comprehensive approach, the Education Dept. has missed an opportunity to truly analyze what works in education.