Silver bullets, iPads and rising test scores

Can iPads, and other mobile devices, really improve test scores?

Evidence from several California seem to suggest they can.

Hundreds of middle school students in the central San Joaquin Valley, Calif., and across the state—each with a school-issued iPad—are using curriculum apps for their classwork and homework.

Educators say students who use the touch-screen devices for class appear to be more engaged in their studies. Students can view their school work anywhere and eMail their teachers anytime.

It seems to be making a difference: Test scores of iPad-using students are climbing.

Corcoran Unified’s John Muir Middle School handed out an iPad to each of its students. Apps, documents and lessons came pre-loaded for students who use them in a variety of classes.

Jay McPhail, California’s Riverside Unified director of instructional technology, said 90.5 percent of students using iPads are testing as proficient or above on benchmark tests, compared with 60 percent in other classes.

Like any tool we use, the iPad is not a silver bullet. It’s one more tool in our toolkit that can engage and enable students to learn in brain-based ways. But early research like this will encourage more schools and teachers to break out of traditional methods of instruction.

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