Do We Really Need iPads For Every Student?

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From the LA Times today:

In a major shift in how California’s 6.2 million public school students are taught and tested, state officials plan to drop the standardized exams used since 1999 and replace them with a computerized system next spring.

The move would advance new learning goals, called the Common Core, which are less focused on memorizing facts. They are designed instead to develop critical thinking and writing skills that take formerly separate subjects — such as English and history or writing and chemistry — and link them. Forty-five states have adopted these standards.

Click the link to read more about the clusterfuckish nature of this whole thing. But regardless of how you feel about Common Core, why the switch to computerized tests? Can’t you test Common Core knowledge using pencil and paper? Beats me. But it’s apparently going to cost the LA school district some serious money. Here’s a story from yesterday:

Los Angeles school officials are acknowledging a new looming cost in a $1-billion effort to provide iPads to every student: keyboards. Officials so far have not budgeted that expense, but they said the wireless keyboards are recommended for students when they take new state standardized tests.

When I read that, I wondered why they suddenly needed iPads to take standardized tests. I guess now I know. Sort of.

In any case, I’d like to open up this thread to teachers or anyone else who wants to weigh in on the benefit of giving every kid an iPad. I think this is just about the most colossally dumb use of money I’ve come across in a long time. But naturally I want to keep an open mind. So educate me. Someone tell me why I’m wrong.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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