• The Associated Press’s Collin Binkley reports that, “Congress gave schools a record $190 billion but didn’t require them to publicly report individualized purchases…, and the full scope of the spending is unknown.”
  • An Edtech Evidence Exchange analysis says, “The U.S. spends between $26 billion and $41 billion a year on Edtech, but that range is merely an estimate—and a conservative one at that.” Its founder, Bart Epstein explains: “That money went to a wide variety of products and services, but it was not distributed on the basis of merit or equity or evidence… but almost entirely on the strength of marketing, branding, and relationships.”
  • An Associated Press analysis found that “many of the largest school systems spent tens of millions of dollars in pandemic money on software and services from tech companies… Schools, however, have little or no evidence the programs helped students. Some of the new software was rarely used.”

Couple all those spent billions with this from a recent Gallup poll: Just 26% of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in our public schools—the second lowest figure since the question was first asked in 1973…

  • According to the National Center for Education Statistics: The average scores of our 13-year-olds who took the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) again declined, this time by 4 points in reading and 9 points in math.
  • A recent analysis of ACT scores found that just 20% of the 2023 high school graduating class is ready to succeed in their college introductory classes, “though most believe they’re well-prepared.” They scored just 19.5 out of 36 on the assessment—a 30-year low.
  • Of the 7,000+ math and English/Language Arts teachers in a recent RAND Corporation survey, 30% said their school district’s curriculum is “too challenging for their students.”

Writing vs. Keyboarding:

About a recent Norwegian University of Science and Technology study, neuropsychology professor and study author, Audrey van der Meer says, “Our main finding was that handwriting activates almost the whole brain as compared to typewriting, which hardly activates the brain as such. The brain is not challenged very much when its pressing keys on a keyboard as opposed to when it’s forming those letters by hand.”

Explains Jo Banks, author and executive business coach, “Handwriting demands a higher level of cognitive engagement compared to typing.”  Moreover, it “increases our comprehension and retention of the information… When we physically write, we mentally and physically internalize the words, making them more meaningful and memorable.”

As an Indiana University study once put it: “…People’s brains are more active while writing by hand than while typing.”

Reading Comprehension:  

In January, The Guardian’s John R. MacArthur reported that a recent “groundbreaking study” by the U.S. Department of Education showed that “kids learn better on paper, not screens.”

As Education Week’s Sarah Schwartz explained, “Study after study has shown that reading on screens just doesn’t have the same benefit as reading print books… For some students, digital reading is actually detrimental: Researchers found that reading on screens lowered reading comprehension skills among younger students, those in elementary and middle grades.”

And, for the first time, ERP (Event Related Potential) was recently used to “identify text engagement differences when reading digitally or in print, and showed “evidence of differences in brain responses to texts presented in print and digital media, including deeper semantic encoding for print than digital texts.”

Indeed, as Education Week’s Elizabeth Heubeck found, “Multiple studies show that young children and college-age students remember fewer concrete details when reading online text compared to printed text…” Moreover, she adds, “Evidence supports teachers’ concerns that early exposure to electronic devices leads to loss of the focus young learners need for reading.”

  • According to Bay View Analytics, just 23% of teachers use printed textbooks exclusively, and, of the those who offer textbooks to students, 77% said those textbooks are available in a digital format.

Says school tech consultant Chris Ryan, “At the end of the day, no technology can guarantee results. It’s like the Wild, Wild West figuring this out. And, if you take a step back, what really works is direct instruction with a kid.”

And yet…

The online-only version of the College Board’s standardized test, the SAT, launches this spring. As described by the Board’s Priscilla Rodriguez, “The test still measures students’ abilities in math, reading, and writing, but is now shorter, more adaptive to students’ performance, and more secure from possible cheating.”

Artificial Intelligence has already made headway in our classrooms and now, too, “Stealth Assessment.” These “playful assessments “discreetly test students’ learning in interactive immersive environments, such as digital games.”

For better or worse…

With thanks, Carol