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Teachers are part of the digital equity issue, too

Four years after Maryland rolled out the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, some teachers remain concerned that the online testing model contributes to widening an achievement gap they’ve spent decades working to close.

In your article around Baltimore's technology gap ("Computer-based tests a challenge for low-income students, some Baltimore teachers say," April 22), we read that students who took the PARCC scored lower when they took the test on a computer than when they used paper and pencil. While it's easy to blame technology for the poor test results, there are many more factors at play.

As the digital shift continues in our schools, we must remember that the students are not the only ones on a technology learning curve Educators must also be privy to the ins and outs of the devices and computerized tests they are administering in order for their students to succeed. This means exploring the technical and pedagogical benefits, and understanding that not all students will have the same access inside and outside of the classroom.

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We need to make decisions to use technology in ways that promote student learning and that help — not hinder — teachers in their daily instruction. We can start by allowing sufficient time for teachers to explore all aspects of technologies and ensuring that students have plenty of practice using technologies before tying them to high-stakes assessments.

Technology literacy will not happen overnight, and there are bound to be some bumps in the road along the way. However, it is important that we continue working toward digital equity in our schools.

Amy McGinn, Baltimore

The writer is a lecturer of educational technology at the Loyola University Maryland School of Education.

Send letters to the editor to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

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