June 8, 2005

Why punish the kids…they should be rewarded

In Virginia, some bright kid figured out how to bypass a disabled calculator function used in state testing.

Texas Instruments recalled the calculator and fixed the problem. The school did honor the students ingenious and TI gave him a new graphing calculator.

Without getting into the whole calculator or no calculator debate, we need to rethink many of our ideas about assessment and evaluation. What engineer or scientist or business person would ever be expected to do their work without technology? Would an architect be asked to design a building without his/her software application?

I know, kids need to learn how to do many of these tasks mentally and also understand what the calculator is doing for them. But I don’t think it has to be done by isolating technology from the equation (no pun intended).

Nanotechnology is moving beyond any Moore’s theory predicted. Wristwatch PC‘s are around the corner.

Students may have to be stripped search before tests in order to insure they don’t have access to technology. I’m hoping there’s a better way. I hope that we assess things that measure how we use the technology not if we use the technology. I think it would be akin to asking a mechanic to fix our car without her own tools. Too many tests still give way too much importance to knowledge and memorization. This math test was in part measuring student’s ability to convert decimals to fractions. If there’s no context in which that skill is measured, it’s pretty meaningless. I don’t really care if a mechanic can use a rachet set. Frankly I don’t care what tools she uses as long as she can fix my car. Does that make sense?