Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and Hawkins County Educator Tina Faust offers her thoughts on the TNReady challenges and the benefits of digital test prep.
As I reflect on the testing situation in Tennessee, my initial thoughts and fears transcended to wonder. I realize that we are reverting back to pencil and paper, but I wonder where we’d be if Tennessee hadn’t decided to launch an initiative that included technology. I wonder how many teachers would still be resisting technology instead of embracing it as a learning opportunity. I wonder how many children would lack technology exposure in education. I wonder how children in low socioeconomic areas would thrive in a digital society. I wonder how large the digital divide would continue to grow if our classrooms ignore technology. I wonder at what point our education system would realize that children who lack technology exposure are hindered and are not college and career ready.
With these thoughts racing through my mind, it occurred to me that TNReady is about more than a test, it’s about connecting the digital world to our classrooms to ensure our students are future ready. As an Instructional Technology Specialist, I want all teachers to embrace technology and utilize it as a seamless part of the curriculum. TNReady has enabled me to make strides to accomplish this goal. The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) worked with districts to ensure infrastructure was in place to support student computer usage. Many districts had to purchase technology and improve infrastructure to meet the perceived demands of TNReady; which equated to more technology within our schools. Once resistant teachers began to embrace technology and utilize it with students, predominately because the TDOE put an emphasis on technology integration. While not all teachers see technology as an integral resource, TNReady started the process to change our mindset.
Growth mindset is essential if we are preparing the generation of the future. It is imperative that Tennessee’s education system meet the demands of society and connect education to the digital world as it provides relevance to our students. Moving Tennessee in a direction to embrace a digital culture is a positive goal that will achieve this connection. While many of us expressed angst over the testing situation, it is important to remember that we are growing and assessing the improvements that will make our classrooms a place where Tennessee students will connect and thrive. I see TNReady as growing a TechReady environment that prepares our students for life after K-12.
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