Era of High-Stakes Testing in the Nation Essay

Pages: 11 (4178 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Teaching

¶ … era of high-stakes testing in the nation's high schools and calls for increased accountability on the part of educators, the need for identifying what works best in improving academic outcomes has never been greater. One of the most promising additions to the high school classroom in recent years has been information and communications technologies (ICTs). Therefore, the problem to be considered by this study concerns the need to develop a set of best practices that high school classroom teachers can consult and follow when implementing and administering ICT initiatives in their classrooms. The guiding purpose of the study will be to (a) help high school classroom teachers in the United States better understand how ICT can be used to achieve improved academic outcomes for their students; and (b) help educational leaders better understand what support high school classroom teachers need to use ICT in the most effective fashion.

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In an era of high-stakes testing, increasing calls for educator accountability, and dwindling state budgets for education, it is important for the nation's schools to use the resources they have available to their best effect. One important resource that is frequently being underused or misused is the digital expertise possessed by most young people today. Many young learners entering high school today typically possess a wide range of computer skills that they have learned inside and outside of school. These so-called "digital natives" have been raised in a world in which computers and other Internet-enabled peripheral devices are commonplace and most are able to use computers and these other Internet-enabled devices expertly. Further, many of these students have already used computers and the Internet in their classroom in elementary and middle school and they naturally expect to continue the use of these and other information and communications technology (ICT) devices in their high school classrooms -- and for good reason.

TOPIC: Essay on Era of High-Stakes Testing in the Nation's Assignment

According to Lim and Khine (2006), a growing body of research has documented the positive effect that ICT can have on improving academic outcomes in high school settings, but there is more involved in achieving these goals than simply placing computers in the classroom and expecting positive results. Unfortunately, there remains a paucity of research concerning how ICT can be used to its best effect in achieving improved academic outcomes for these young learners. For example, Andrews (2004) points out that, "It is certainly true that the computer has been introduced into primary/elementary and secondary/high school literacy classrooms as an intervention, though this has been a gradual and fitful process" (p. 14).

More troubling is the fact that many high school teachers lack the experience and expertise to use ICT to its best effect. In this regard, Lim and Khine emphasize that, "One of the key determinants of the success of lack of success of any ICT initiative in education is the teacher. A teacher's vision of the use of technology to improve his/her existing classroom practices will eventually determine the extent and effectiveness of ICT integration in the classroom" (p. 97). This point is also made by Richards (2006) who reports, "The Internet is an embarrassment of riches that is next to worthless without an educator to facilitate learning and integration in classrooms" (p. 60). Therefore, identifying opportunities to improve high school teachers' use of ICT in their classrooms represents a timely and valuable enterprise which is the purpose of this study which is outlined below.


The overarching goal of this study will be to identify ways that ICT can be used to its best effect in high schools classrooms. In support of this goal, the objectives of the study will be to achieve the following described research purpose and answer the research questions listed below.


The purpose of this study is two-fold as follows:

1. To help high school classroom teachers in the United States better understand how ICT can be used to achieve improved academic outcomes for their students; and,

2. To help educational leaders better understand what support high school classroom teachers need to use ICT effectively.


The proposed study will be guided by the following research questions:

1. What are the primary factors that contribute to the successful implementation and use of ICT in high school classrooms?

2. What are the primary barriers and constraints to the successful implementation and use of ICT in high school classrooms?

3. What preparatory steps are needed to help facilitate the implementation and use of ICT in high school classrooms?


The problem to be addressed by this study is to develop a set of best practices that high school classroom teachers can consult and follow when implementing and administering ICT in their classrooms.


The methodology to be used by the proposed study will be a mixed methodology consisting of a review of the relevant peer-reviewed and scholarly literature combined with a survey of high school teachers who have implemented ICT in their classrooms. The use of the first component of the mixed methodology is consistent with numerous social researchers who emphasize the need to review what is known about a given subject before formulating opinions and drawing conclusions (Neuman, 2003), as well as identifying any significant gaps in the literature (Gratton & Jones, 2003). The combination of the secondary resources consulted in the literature review with the primary data to be developed from the survey of ICT-equipped teachers is also consistent with other social researchers who emphasize the need to include both sources of information wherever possible. For example, Dennis and Harris (2002) note that, "Primary data are information that is being collected for the first time in order to address a specific research problem. This means that it is likely to be directly relevant to the research, unlike secondary data, which may be out of date or collected for a totally different purpose. Ideally, an effective research project should incorporate both primary and secondary data" (p. 39).


It is expected that a number of success stories concerning how ICT was implemented and use to good effect will be identified during the literature review, with many of the obstacles and constraints involved a lack of training and expertise on the part of the teachers. The results of the survey are expected to help inform how these barriers to success were overcome and what steps were taken to help ensure the overall effectiveness of the initiatives.


Background and Overview

Perhaps the overarching theme that emerges from research into the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom is just how rapidly these technologies are evolving. The rapid pace of innovation in ICT in the classroom makes it vitally important for students to know how to use these technologies to their best effect, of course, but it also demands that teachers stay "one step ahead" of their students in order to help them understand how to assist their students in their use (Labbo, 2006). One of the other major themes that quickly emerges from the review of the literature concerning the use of ICT in the classroom is just how vastly different some of the outcomes have been, even in schools of comparable size and demographic compositions. In some cases, the introduction of even relatively modest resources such as a few computers with Internet access, have resulted in enormous improvements in academic outcomes while in others, the implementation of a broad-based (and expensive) ICT initiative have failed to achieve the expected results (Albrini, 2006; Lacina, 2009). These differences, of course, beg the questions, "What makes the use of ICT in the high school classroom most effective, and why?," and these issues are discussed further below.

Factors Contributing to the Effective Use of ICT in the Classroom

First and foremost, teachers and students must know how to use the ICT resources that are available to them effectively. In this regard, Lim, Pek and Chai (2005) emphasize that, "Like their teachers, students are faced with technical difficulties that commonly accompany ICT-mediated activity and they have to possess the right skills to use a computer on their own" (p. 391). In reality, though, many young learners enter the classroom fully prepared to use ICT resources based on the expertise they have developed outside school. For instance, Zevenbergen and Logan (2008) report that, "Digital natives are more connected than other generations through technologies such as mobile phones, email and chat lines. Communication is a much more connected and global experience for this generation than has been possible in the past" (p. 37). Likewise, Leithner emphasizes that, "Many [young] learners have come to expect technology in the classroom because they see themselves as part of the 'Net generation'" (p. 34). This is not to say, of course, that all high school students possess the requisite ICT skill sets that are needed to use these resources effectively, and there remain some significant disparities between expertise levels, particularly among minority students. For example, Winston, Phillip… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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