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Education expert calls BCPS’ technology plan a “risky gamble”

diane ravitch

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch, historian of education and research professor of education at New York University, has joined the debate about Baltimore County Public Schools’ move to provide laptops to all students and increase the use of technology in classrooms, known as the STAT program.

She writes:

The Baltimore County Public Schools are embarking on a risky gamble that will put all students online. At present, there is no research base to prove the value of this expensive venture. What we can predict is two nefarious consequences: 1) the computers will be used for”embedded assessment,” so that students are tested daily or continually without knowing it. Second, the students will be data mined continually, and their personally identifiable information will be available to third parties or subject to hacking. 

Read her full blog post here.

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Concerned BCPS parent
Concerned BCPS parent

National eduction reformer and NYU professor Diane Ravitch looks closer at STAT and the high use of tech in schools in this strongly worded original post. Some interesting back and forth on the issue in the comments. Professor Ravitch opens with:

“I wish that all those who appreciate the wonders of technology would frankly admit its limitations. I wish they would speak out when hucksters and naifs claim that technology will close the achievement gap between rich and poor or that learning by machine is “personalized learning.” Personalized learning is what happens when humans beings interact, face to face, when a teacher who knows you is engaged in helping you learn. An interaction with a machine is impersonalized learning.

Baltimore County Public Schools system has bought the hoax: under the leadership of its superintendent, Dallas Dance, the school board has agreed to invest at least $270 million so that every student will have his or her own computer. It is a decisive move towards a fully digitized schooling, with everyone wired, including 5-year-olds. Some parents are very unhappy with this decision. They would prefer to see money invested in reducing class sizes, arts programs, and capital improvements. Some worry that the evidence for the benefits of going digital does not exist. Some argue that the program does more for big business than for children. Some think the program should be pilot-tested before it is implemented across the district. Some worry about the potential health effects of a fully digital classroom.”


Diane Ravitch is a highly respected voice in education. If she is calling out BCPS on these matters, we should listen.


And technology isn’t helping create parity or benefitting disadvantaged students either. This from a 65-country intergovernmental study released in late 2015:

“And perhaps the most disappointing finding of the report is that technology is of little help in bridging the skills divide between advantaged and disadvantaged students. Put simply, ensuring that every child attains a baseline level of proficiency in reading and mathematics seems to do more to create equal opportunities in a digital world than can be achieved by expanding or subsidising access to high‑tech devices and services.”

The report itself, see Executive Summary learning_9789264239555-en