Sunday, June 18, 2000
Youngsters aged as education did
By Phillip Pina
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Education has gone through dramatic changes during the Class of 2000's 13 years in school.
Computers have changed how they learn. And proficiency tests have changed how they are graded.
The world we are preparing these students for is very different from the way it was 13 years ago, said LeeAnne Rogers, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education. What and how children are being taught is changing to meet those demands.
In 1987, there were 32 students for each computer in U.S. schools. Typing classes were given in high schools. Proficiency tests were a new idea in Ohio.
Now called keyboarding, students as young as third grade are taught typing skills. Standardized tests are a part of everyday life. Now there is one computer for every seven students in Ohio. And the state's public schools have been wired to the Internet.
It's a seismic shift.
Schools are reservoirs of tradition, said Miami University education professor Douglas Brooks. Teaching concepts as well as other disciplines have stood still for centuries.
The teacher stands before the class and teaches the same thing repetitively from year to year, said Sam Orth, executive director of SchoolNet, the state agency charged with wiring and providing computers to Ohio's schools.
Technology is changing all that.
Teachers still use chalkboards and books to teach reading but just as readily turn to computer programs that grade progress as well as pinpoint problem.
Many rural schools rely on satellite links to offer specialized courses not otherwise available. And text books are being replaced by laptops in some districts.
Education has also been forced to become more results oriented.
The state of Ohio has relied on proficiency tests the past decade to monitor student progress. But the scores are also used to debate what and how students are taught.
It is only natural to see schools adjust their curriculum to focus on improving test scores, Mr. Brooks said. What that jeopardizes is the ability to meet the needs of the students.
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