Where’s the Beef? Show me the money! What’s the bottom line?
In today’s results-oriented, data-driven mentality in education, we all fall under the large accountability umbrella of test scores. Certainly, there are skeptics who question putting iPads in the hands of young children. It is asked, “How can we justify the cost of this technology when school budgets and programs are being cut and teachers are being furloughed?” I too, asked those questions at the beginning of this pilot. After all, my pay has been decreased from furloughs and no step-increases for experience or cost of living. My answers came directly from the very people for whom I work…my students.
Let me say that I teach children, not tests. I want my students to find a love for learning that sustains them for a lifetime. In a previous post, I described what kind of reader I am. I want my students to be filled with wonder and inquiry and to find joy in reading and learning. A commentary written in USA Today states that the goal of education should be to prepare students to be competent and original in their thinking and that focusing on test scores hurts innovation. When we start focusing on scores, we often stop focusing on innovative teaching methods and divergent thinking. Don’t get me wrong…teaching involves assessment and assessment drives instruction. The problem comes when we stay focused on the one-dimensional scores and not look at the whole child. William Arthur Ward states “Wise are those who learn that the bottom line doesn’t always have to be their top priority” Sermon over.
All of that being said, I do understand that the purchase of the iPads was intended to close the achievement gap and raise scores. So far, they’ve delivered on that. I’ve been using the iPads for 13 months. Last school year, we began implementation in late January. My class results are here. ipad-data pdf We were thrilled! Systematic teaching in Reading and Writing Workshop, along with differentiated instruction with the iPads allowed all 30 of my students to end the school year reading on or above grade level. This year, with 12 weeks of school remaining, 92% of my students read on a first grade level or higher and the remaining 8% are on grade level. Interesting to note, the 8% are students who came to my class after Christmas from other schools. They have moved from being non-readers to reading on-grade level in 3 months.
While I don’t solely focus on test scores, I can’t deny the results I am seeing. These are results that can’t be overlooked. If good teaching, and iPads as educational tools, result in higher achievement, then how can we argue that our children aren’t worth the investment?