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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And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

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