Federal Study Finds Computers Widen Testing Gaps in Writing

THE DIGITAL DIVIDE In 2012, the Department of Education gave laptops to 10,000 fourth-graders for two 30-minute writing assignments. Officials were hopeful: the majority of students could complete the writing assignments on the computer. Not so fast: a recent report from the Department compared 2012's results with 2010's pencil and paper results from the same tests. The top 20 percent of students scored better on the computer than on paper, but the lowest 20 percent of students fared worse. Researchers found that the high-performing students were more likely to have access to a computer and the Internet at home.

This has potentially huge implications for America's standardized testing: In 2015, more than half of U.S. states administered writing tests on computers to students in the third grade and upward.

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