Raleigh, Buy Us Some Damn Textbooks!

Yes, technology in the classroom can be a great avenue for learning. However, technology for technology’s sake can block many roads for students. And if technology is to be looked at as a simple substitution for other resources to save time and money, then leaders need to be sure that nothing is being sacrificed that may harm our students’ abilities to succeed.

It is important to have all classrooms digitally linked. No doubt about that. It is important that students have technological resources that allow them to easily assimilate information and data and also disseminate findings. Again, no doubt about that.

But we still need the printed texts. We need the textbooks. We need the kinetic and tactile exposure to the text. So Raleigh, buy us some damn textbooks. With real pages and hard covers.

We need the textbooks. New ones actually.

Business Insider published an article last fall (2017) that reports on a research study about how students learn “way” more from printed texts than they do from digital texts. Entitled “A new study shows that students learn way more effectively from print textbooks than screens,” Patricia Alexander and Lauren Singer convincingly speak to this dynamic. From the article:

Given this trend, teachers, students, parents and policymakers might assume that students’ familiarity and preference for technology translates into better learning outcomes. But we’ve found that’s not necessarily true.

As researchers in learning and text comprehension, our recent work has focused on the differences between reading print and digital media. While new forms of classroom technology like digital textbooks are more accessible and portable, it would be wrong to assume that students will automatically be better served by digital reading simply because they prefer it (http://www.businessinsider.com/students-learning-education-print-textbooks-screens-study-2017-10?platform=hootsuite).

“Prefer” is the operative word here.

Further in the report:

Nonetheless, some key findings emerged that shed new light on the differences between reading printed and digital content:

  • Students overwhelming preferred to read digitally.
  • Reading was significantly faster online than in print.
  • Students judged their comprehension as better online than in print.
  • Paradoxically, overall comprehension was better for print versus digital reading.
  • The medium didn’t matter for general questions (like understanding the main idea of the text).
  • But when it came to specific questions, comprehension was significantly better when participants read printed texts.

Think about the state of North Carolina and its failing commitment to fully fund schools. One just needs to look at the textbook funding numbers to see that we as a state do not place a high value on textbooks. And it’s not as if we don’t have the money to do so; the North Carolina General Assembly has been gloating about a budgetary surplus that it has “created” for the last couple of years.

Actually, it’s a matter of priority. This graphic was posted to Twitter the same week as the aforementioned report was published.

textbooks

If that doesn’t show a deliberate disparity, then climate change isn’t real.

Ask any teacher in public schools about the textbook situation and you will receive an answer that talks about the lack of funds, how outdated they are, or the terrible condition they are in.

When research shows that students achieve more when they have the printed text, wouldn’t it make sense to invest in textbooks?

Yes, it does.

Raleigh, buy us some damn textbooks.

And don’t take our lunch money to pay for them. In fact, here’s an idea. Below is a list of all of the “standardized tests” we currently make public school students endure:

  1. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 3
  2. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 3
  3. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Science – Grade 3
  4. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 4
  5. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 4
  6. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 4
  7. North Carolina Final Exam Science – Grade 4
  8. North Carolina Writing Assignment – Grade 4
  9. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 5
  10. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 5
  11. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 5
  12. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 6
  13. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 6
  14. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 6
  15. North Carolina Final Exam Science – Grade 6
  16. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 7
  17. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 7
  18. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 7
  19. North Carolina Final Exam Science – Grade 7
  20. North Carolina Writing Assignment – Grade 7
  21. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Math – Grade 8
  22. North Carolina End of Grade Exam English / Language Arts- Grade 8
  23. North Carolina End of Grade Exam Science – Grade 8
  24. North Carolina Final Exam Social Studies – Grade 8
  25. End of Course Test – Biology
  26. End of Course Test – English II
  27. North Carolina Writing Assignment – Grade 10
  28. End of Course Test – NC Math I
  29. End of Course Test – NC Math III
  30. NC Final – English I
  31. NC Final – English III
  32. NC Final – English IV
  33. NC Final – American History I
  34. NC Final – American History II
  35. NC Final – Civics
  36. NC Final – World History
  37. NC Final – NC Math II
  38. NC Final – Pre-Calculus
  39. NC Final – Discrete Math
  40. NC Final – Advanced Functions & Models
  41. NC Final – Earth & Environmental Science
  42. NC Final – Physics
  43. NC Final – Physical Science
  44. NC Final – Chemistry
  45. NC Test of Computer Skills

That list does not include any local benchmark assessments, the PSAT, the ACT, the Pre-ACT, or any of the AP exams that may come with Advanced Placement classes.

We do not need to have all of those standardized tests to assess students. We have teachers who actually have taught those students who can assess them.

Standardized tests cost lots of money – the writing, vetting, printing, shipping, grading, data-diving, and ultimately the conversion formulas used to give levels of “proficiency.”

Not to mention the amount of time that gets invested in the testing process. So how about taking that money and get some more textbooks that can be used in the class time we save by not giving so many standardized tests.

 

2 thoughts on “Raleigh, Buy Us Some Damn Textbooks!

  1. Also, in 3rd grade we have the BOG-reading test, McClass reading tests (mostly 1 on 1, 3 tests, 3x per year.) We also have district wide benchmarks for both reading and math that take, on average, about 2 – 2.5 hours each, 3 times per year. These are 8-9 year olds!!!

    Also, my social studies text still says that Bev Perdue is our governor and my science text still has us at 9 planets…Pluto hadn’t been demoted yet.

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  2. I keep four class sets of 15-year-old Lit textbooks many of which are held together with plumber’s tape. No, I don’t use them daily but they are employed for specific content. When they are gone, they are GONE!

    They are significantly out of date with their content. Only four suras from the Kho’ ran are offered. They should be digital with Internet connectivity. Printed books don’t connect.

    We need new texts; we used to receive new texts every five years. We have received none in thirteen years!

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