Thursday, September 16, 2010

Spell-check use on writing exam prompts debate

I found this article on eschoolnews, and was completely baffled by the concept. The Oregon Department of Education has made a decision that allows students to use spell-check for an online version of their standardized tests. Apparently, these tests place a heavy focus on punctuation, capitalization and other elements of writing that are easily corrected by spell-check. Also, in order to make this fair, students who are taking the taking the paper test will be allowed to use a dictionary to fix their errors.
I feel as though this is a completely ineffective decision and will prove to be more of a detriment to student progress than an aide. Though we live in an age where technology is used in everyday life, it is still necessary to understand the fundamental components of writing. Additionally, this creates an unfair discrepancy between those taking the test online and those taking the paper version. Though a dictionary can be helpful, it will not recognize errors for the students as a spell-check program would. In other words, the student would have to know that the word is spelt wrong in order to look it up. In my opinion, this will create an array of completely unreliable test scores.
Technology can be very helpful in the classroom and is now necessary for students to use. However, applying technology to standardized testing in this way will not help to demonstrate anything that the student knows. Instead using spell check on these tests will simply show that they student understands how to use the spell-check function on the computer.