Technology Spending Is Not Helping Students


ST. PAUL, Minn. – Increased spending on technology in Twin Cities schools has not resulted in any significant gains in the classroom or on test scores in the last few years.

The Pioneer Press reports that in spite of millions of dollars being invested into laptops and tablets, test scores for the schools in and around St. Paul have remained largely unchanged. Nine or more school districts in the east metro area have programs that issue laptops or tablets directly to students. In the rest of the districts, students have in-school access to technology via computer labs and laptop carts.

These student technology programs cost east metro schools more than $17 million last year alone, reports the Pioneer Press. The St. Paul School district was by far the biggest spender, with its $9 million price tag accounting for more than half of the total. The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district spent $2.7 million. In smaller schools, where students share technology more than being issued their own device, the total cost to the district is much less. The North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school district, for example, had a total student technology budget of $250,000.

Proponents of the program have claimed that placing technology into students hands is merely the first step of implementing the program, reports the Pioneer Press. The more difficult and time-consuming part is supposed to be actually changing the curriculum teachers teach to the students in order to incorporate the technology in the classroom and in assignments.

The Pioneer Press reports that students’ scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) have remained stagnant in English, math, and science. Furthermore, the achievement gap between white students and their minority peers has also failed to shrink as expected.

Stacey Gray Akyea, director of research and assessment for the St. Paul school district, told the Pioneer Press that MCA scores might not be a perfect measure of student success, but that does not mean the scores are entirely useless.

“Ultimately, the MCA is the state’s measure of students meeting grade-level standards,” she told the Pioneer Press.

In 2011 and earlier Minnesota educations flew out to Silicon Valley at Apple’s expense for visits on technology use in education, The New York Times reported.

Anders Koskinen