Monday, March 21, 2016

"This Is Not About Raising Test Scores." | #30DBB - Day 22

This is day 22 of "The Thirty Day Blog Binge." Learn more

My partner and I presented the data from our district's 1:1 pilot program to our Superintendent and his Cabinet today. We had already created a detailed, 27 page report (a must read!) about everything related to the pilot: breakage and repair numbers, BrightBytes survey results, assessment data, student products, recommendations for next steps, etc., so today was the six slide summary of a year's worth of information.

We started with a graph that focused on "The 4Cs" and how often they were used by pilot teachers compared to our traditional  classroom teachers (this came from our BrightBytes survey results). In several areas, the difference is quite profound, with pilot teachers sometimes doubling the frequency with which students collaborate or have the opportunity to research and think critically in the classroom.

While the overall numbers are good, I was more pleased with the conversation they sparked.

Our Superintendent proceeded to remind the room that this was what our technology integration plans needed to be about: teaching students how to create, communicate, collaborate and think critically. The whole point of what we're doing is to prepare them for the future, not as an initiative to increase our scores on standardized testing.

To hear him say that made it feel like a weight had been lifted.

I never doubted his beliefs, but I know that in the day-to-day grind of trying to prove the worth of a project to board members, parents, teachers, administrators and community members, it can be easy to fall into the "technology as a silver bullet" argument. When we do that, we try to convince everyone to invest large sums of money into technology because it will make our scores look better. Test scores are an easy target for a leader to focus on because they're quantifiable.

But just because certain data is easy to obtain, does that mean it's good to pursue?

I'm grateful for a leader who realizes that we're integrating technology because students need guided opportunities to produce and publish while they work with others in a virtual space. They need think deeply and critically about the information they find online, and learn to communicate respectfully in a medium that too often values brevity and caustic wit over depth and substance.

Of course, we believe that the level of engagement and depth of thought required of high-level technology integration produces students who are more knowledgeable of the content. This can, to some extent, translate to an improvement in standardized assessment data. But that's not the objective.

We ultimately integrate to teach students what it means to operate as humans in a technologically complex world.

We'll be meeting again later this week to dig into the details of what comes next in our digital learning plan: long-term professional development, curriculum integration, instructional shifts, device types, infrastructure, and all the other details that I enjoy very much. But for now, I can breathe a little easier after being reminded that the man in charge has a vision for our students' futures, and it's not just about raising test scores.



  1. I am currently involved in the same process that you seem to describe. We are trying to advocate for a form of 1:1 chromebook program at both the middle and high school level. We have done some informal pilots, lots of research, and many meetings about all necessary components to making something like this work. You mention the 4 C's and the other technology integration specialist in my district and myself agree that this is what it should be all about. I would love to read your 27 page report actually to see if we have considered all the same things you have. Very much enjoy reading your blog!

    1. Thanks, Ryan, it sounds like we're in VERY similar situations. I'd be glad to share the report with you. DM me on Twitter (@nkeithblend) with your email address and I'll send it to you.

  2. That's great, Nicholas. Thank you. I tried to DM you but you would have to follow me first. (@MedwayTech)