What? Drill and Kill Software Doesn’t Work?

Okay, so I remain a bit resentful that our school has purchased and is using three, yes three, different “test-prep” software programs (one that cost in the 5 figure range! Imagine the laptops we could’ve purchased).  So it is no surprise that when I read one of the latest posts by one of my favorite bloggers, R. Richard Wojewodzki of TeachPaperless, I clapped out loud (scaring my dog, by the way!).  In his recent post entitled, “Not to ‘drill’ it into you but…” he references a post from the Generation Yes blog:

A year ago I wrote about Part 1 of a study on “educational” software – Headlines that won’t help. The preliminary results of the study found that various software test prep packages had little impact on student test scores. Now the second half of the study is out. Guess what. The software still doesn’t work.

All of these software packages promise to improve student scores in reading and math. But as endless research has proven, drilling kids for tests doesn’t result in significant test score improvement, and has negative long-term results in what students actually retain. It doesn’t matter if we drill more efficiently with expensive software. Doing things that don’t work DOESN’T WORK. How much simpler can this be? As I said last year, the headlines SHOULD read, “Bad Educational Practice Proved Ineffective, Again!”

All of the studied software test prep programs are far removed from creative software applications that allow students to use modern technology to express themselves in innovative, personal ways.

Mr. Wojewodzki goes on to state that our efforts (and funding) would be much better spent seeking out and applying web 2.0 tools that will allow our students to really gain knowledge and process skills that will benefit them in the future!  We all want to do what is best for our students.  I just happen to feel that having them actually create a bar graph of our Science data using Excel is much more productive, and will be more memorable, than forcing them to answer yet another set of multiple choice questions about a bar graph someone else constructed.  Still waiting for alternate assessments that can measure this so we can let go of our End of Grade tests!

Photo Credit: Flickr – test test test

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