June 19, 2000

June 19, 2000 | News Releases on Education

Classroom Computers Have No Impact On Reading Achievement, Study Shows

WASHINGTON, June 19, 2000-Even as federal lawmakers propose spending billions to put computers in every classroom, a new Heritage Foundation study finds no difference between the reading achievement of students who use computers and those who don't.

Kirk Johnson, a policy analyst at Heritage's Center for Data Analysis, looked at data from the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test and found that students who use computers in the classroom at least once a week perform no better than those who use computers less frequently, or not at all.

"This report does not suggest that there is no place for computers in the classroom," Johnson writes. "It does, however, demonstrate that computers may not have the effect on academic achievement in reading that some might expect, even when they are used by well-trained instructors."

Johnson suggests that dedicating large amounts of federal tax dollars to the purchase of computers, software, and teacher training could crowd out other worthwhile education expenditures such as new textbooks, music programs, vocational education and the arts.

The Department of Education's NAEP exam in core subjects is given every two years to fourth, eighth and 12th grade students nationwide. In one year, the students are tested in math (as they were in 1996), while the next exam tests reading. Johnson modeled the NAEP data on six factors: class size, race and ethnicity, parents' education, the number of reading materials in the home, participation in the free or reduced-price lunch program, and gender.

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