Performance standards for grades 9-12

I reviewed the Performance Indicators for Technology-Literate Students for grades 9-12 at the National Educational Technology Standards for Students website. The Indicators state "all students should have opportunities to demonstrate the following performances…" and goes on to list 10 criteria for evaluation that are designed to address 6 different categories:

  1. basic operations
  2. social/ethical issues
  3. productivity tools
  4. communication tools
  5. research tools
  6. problem-solving and decision tools

On the surface codifying these indicators seems like a great idea. However, I'm wondering really what the practical benefits of these standards are. For example, #5 is "use technology tools and resources for managing and communicating personal/professional information" addressing categories 3 and 4. Sounds good. But what does it mean? If the kid can use email is that good? Can the kid write a coherent email? That would be better, right?

This gets at a bigger issue I have with the emphasis on technology and education. Isn't good writing and communication independent of the medium? Are the cognitive skills required for research dependent on technology? Do kids need the internet to problem-solve and to think about the process of making decisions? I think these standards may be useful in helping to make kids technologically literate, but I don't think that's necessarily a primary goal of education.

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