Two Years Out, Maine Laptop Program Still Has No Measurable Results

The folks who defend the program to spend tens of millions of dollars in a largely rural state to provide loaner laptops (not ones they eventually own or keep year to year) to middle-school students are still squishy. I've written about this in years past, with my disappointment that there is no quantitative improvement, no objective measure that the program provides to show that laptops help in any regard.

The person they hired to evaluate the program bemoans that he has no measures by which to show the program has shown improvement for students because their tests show only memorization results. Sure, but if there's no item in the budget to create tests that show other kinds of analytical improvement you are left with $37 million spent and no proof whether it was spent well.

Most good programs are designed with feedback built in to understand whether a given change produces any result, positive or negative. It's terrible to see reports over and over that Maine did not plan to have any method to measure success. Throw a laptop at the kid, integrate it into the curriculum, and throw up your hands.

How about more teachers, better textbooks, better pre- and post-school programs? You know, things that there are decades upon decades of studies that they show have a measurable effect on kids' lives as kids and adults? Naw, not sexy enough.