Category Archives: Education

Comparing laptops to computers; what is best for your student?

Computers came into existence a long time ago. From the size of a football field, to a room, to a table and now to a lap; computer systems have also progressed as the World has moved forward. Being permitted only to influential offices when they were initially introduced and only being operated by a professional, now they have been given access to every human on earth. As a student, it becomes a tad tough to decide whether laptops are better or computers are more appropriate. Thereby, we shall see the pros and cons of various aspects of both, as to decide which one will serve the purpose better.

  1. Cost price: Due to the fact that desktop computers are larger and have more than one component attached to them that can vary per package, the prices are also in a wide array. However, the lowest price you must pay with the maximum number of gadgets is also pretty minimal and you can still attain a perfectly good setup. On the other hand, laptops do not have that much hassle attached to them, but to have the best package like speed, memory space, durability and sleekness you must pay a lot more. Thereby, judging by pricing, laptops can be heftier on the pocket of a student or an educational institution if they want the best one available in market.
  1. Handiness: Desktop computers not only have a monitor but also a processor that is quite heavy. To transport it from one place to another you need quite some time and effort. Furthermore, all the wires attached to a switchboard, to the monitor and the keyboard also need to be detached and carried along making it a very troublesome process. Howbeit, laptops have everything they need in their system so you can merely pick it up and put it in another place. As a student, that is the biggest advantage you can get because you can carry it wherever you want.
  1. Processor power: Since desktop computers have a larger sized processor, the power it harnesses is also proportional to its size. This means that more activities that involve heavy power can be done on the computer like gaming. Laptops have smaller sized and lesser powered systems, on which you cannot do very dynamic activities. In case of students, it depends on the type of study they have and how much work they need off the system. If the student is a graphic designing course, he must prefer a computer because they can install all his software easily. On the other hand, if they are fifth graders, a laptop will do just fine.
  1. Assembling: Arranging, setting and starting up a desktop computer is a cumbersome process owing to the large number of components involved. Thereby, it also takes up more area. To the contrary, laptops only need to be inserted with a battery the first time, and every time after you just need to click the power button to get it in use. So, for educational institutes that install them or students, laptops can save a lot of precious time, as well as space in the room. 
  1. Keyboards: In case of desktop computers, you need to purchase an additional keyboard, but there are so many options to choose from. There are different sizes, various types, numerous colors and eye-catching themes to your liking. In the case of laptops, the good part is that the keyboard is already installed so you need not buy an additional one, however you cannot customize it to your liking. Again, their ease to a student depends on the type of educational program he/she is in. If they need a larger keyboard with more features, then a computer would do. However, if his scope of studies does not require any fancy keyboards, a laptop is all he/she needs.
  1. Size of screen: In the case of screen size, both the subjects at hand are equal. Monitors, whether of the laptop or the desktop computer, come in all size ranges. You can pick the one you want. Both of them can also be connected to any external monitor like a television screen with a single cable so you need to worry about the size.
  1. Improvement: Everything changes after a while, new advancements and gadgets come into existence and you think about updating. Since the desktop computer has all externally attached components, you can change any one of them at any time as per your requirements. Diversely, the laptops and their components are not removable, meaning that you cannot upgrade them except for the hard-disk, memory and such. You can only purchase a brand new laptop. In this case, desktop computers have a clear advantage because as soon as a component wears out becomes out-dated you can change it.
  1. Repair: Same goes the case for repair. Since the components can easily come off, you can repair them, replace them and upgrade them with ease. However, laptops usually need to be sent to an expert to get it back into shape because you cannot repair it on your own, neither can you replace any component. Here, also desktop computers have a significant advantage.
  1. Fashion statement: Well, we cannot rule out the trends of the modern world can we? And that is laptops. While desktop computers still exist, they are now being considered obsolete, and laptops are readily taking their place more or less because of their portability and smoother designing. So if you want to follow the bandwagon effect, or simply to fit into your surroundings, a laptop will be a more probable choice.

In conclusion, whether you need a desktop computer for your student or a laptop, depends widely on the subject of the study, the requirements of the syllabus, the classroom ethics and the ease of the student. After assessing all these factors in light of the pros and cons mentioned above, the student plus the teacher can decide which of them is more suited.

Is Wisconsin confused on Common Core?

As an early adopter back in 2010, Wisconsin has proven to be one of the more volatile states dealing with Common Core. First a proponent then an opponent and now dedicated to it, it’s no wonder that the general populous is confused as to the state’s stance on the standards.

 

Governor Flip Flopping

The biggest trouble has been with Governor Scott Walker’s indecision. Claiming many times to be against the Core, many remain confused to his proclamation that he “effectively repealed” them in 2015 even though all statewide tests have been aligned to them. In truth, the schools have held on to these standards even though they are not forced by law to do so. However, the story gets a bit more interesting from there.

While schools don’t have to choose the Core, the new state exam was to be Smarter Balanced, a general exam aligned to Core standards. Therefore choosing any other standard set would only serve to ruin test scores and paint teachers in a bad light. So the Core remained. Then, Walker helped eliminate Smarter Balanced in favor of a shorter, cheaper option known as the Badger Exam. Even though it’s cheaper, it still remains aligned with Common Core, causing frustration among the educators of Wisconsin. They are disappointed that they can’t use this test to truly assess student progress with other states because while the Badger Exam might lead to higher test scores in the state, the results won’t accurately portray student learning on a national level.

 

Better Scores

All in all, 2015’s Badger Exam scores have shown interesting results with an average 51.2% proficiency in English and 43.7% proficiency in math. Like other states, the teachers were quick to warn parents and politicians not to take these scores too seriously as they are only the first results for a brand new exam. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t where the problem ends.

Highly criticized for a myriad of reasons, the released data has been anything be predictable. Some schools did incredibly well while others had low scores even though the students that tested were strong performers in advanced classes. Luckily, last year was the only year the Badger Exam would be used. Now unfunded, the state will once again take on a new statewide exam, the Wisconsin Forward Exam, it’s third assessment in three years.

 

As Wisconsin moves forward, its rift can only be understood as the result of a confused leadership. In the majority of states, officials have taken a firm stance, be it for or against the Core and its related tests. Wisconsin, however, is floating in a confused miasma of indecision that has resulted in wasted educational funds, wasted time and a frustrated educational system. As the teachers do what they can to navigate the governor’s inability to choose a side, it’s the children that are confused, adapting quickly and constantly to statewide tests.

Illinois Changes its attitude about Common Core

A weird amalgamation of liberalism in its city of Chicago and conservatism out in every other area, Illinois has taken the more liberal route in regards to education. Following the reveal of the Common Core, the state voted to adopt the standards on June 24, 2010. In addition, it became and has remained an active member of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC), the group tasked with developing the new standardized test for the Core. That being said, the state is slowly becoming more two-sided in light of the PARCC test scores that released in 2015.

 

Growing Pains

Like most states, Illinois saw an extreme drop in readiness for college as determined by these test scores. Across every district, scores were low, prompting educators to send home letters of explanation so as to shield the children from any parental punishment. That being said, it’s the conservative districts that took the scores in stride, logically drawing the conclusion that a new test was bound to be lower since both teachers and students had never taken anything like it before.

 

Growing Resentment

While the non-Chicago areas are continuing to work to improve, it’s the big city that’s harboring a growing break between the Core and everyone else. From educators to parents, the PARCC test has been vilified as ruining the already struggling school system. Educators see it as an evil that is turning away both prospective and current teachers. Parents encouraged students to protest the exam, leading to certain schools reporting a 54% no-show rate. Unlike other states, educators are fully supportive of the parents doing this, even in light of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel shaming them for siding with the parents.

While it might seem like a great stand against a perceived evil, the fight to force the students to take the test is embroiled in a much more complex issue of funding and poor performing schools. In reality, it was only the higher performing schools with the wealthier parents that supported such a boycott of the PARCC. Such skip rates did not happen in the poorer districts. In addition, the state needs to maintain a 95% participation rate in order to continue to receive funding for these lower-performing and often underfunded schools – schools that have no bearing on the costly private institutes that are causing such a fuss.

In the end, the PARCC results have done nothing to prove or dismantle any theories so much as entrench individuals further in their current beliefs. Parents that believed the Core to be an evil now have found justification. Educators that knew lower test scores were coming are further convinced that this change is for the better, they just need more time. Though the Core will no doubt remain a staple of the state’s education system, what happens to the PARCC remains to be seen.

Common Core in the US

Educational reforms have long been a sore point in the United States. As each state is responsible for its own academic standards, many become defensive when the federal government tries to implement any form of change. While solidarity has led to some incredible programs in certain states, it has also led to equally as poor educational pursuits in others. Because of this, the US has seen a decline in its academic standing when compared with other first world nations, prompting the creation of the Common Core.

The Common Core

It must be stated outright that the Common Core has never been a federally mandated program. Instead, it is a set of standards for grades K-12 developed by leading educators from across the country. Its purpose is to get school systems up to par with global competitors so that America’s graduates have a shot at being accepted into good colleges and landing even better jobs.

Another important distinction that needs to be pointed out is that it’s not a specific program. It is merely general objectives students should be able to achieve by the time they graduate from one grade to the next. For example, where fifth graders will need to understand non-fiction, 8th graders will need to be able to analyze it critically. In addition, teachers and school systems are the ones to decide how these objectives are taught, allowing the states total control over this perceived federal take over.

Nothing New

When the Core was finalized, Washington tied to it the chance to receive funding for education, prompting many states to agree to Core adoption blindly. Not four years later when campaign bids started up and the standards were supposed to have been implemented did states begin speaking out against it. While some states, like Montana, have had no trouble whatsoever implementing the shift, other states, like Mississippi, are doing what they can to repeal the Core in favor of a state-sanctioned set of rules.

Oddly enough, the Core is anything but new in regards to the American education system. All states have created their own set of standards and implemented those. Like the core, these standards clearly define exactly what students should be able to do by the time they reach the end of that grade. This is all the Core is. The only difference is that the Core would then put every state on the same page, giving students equal opportunities to succeed no matter where they live.

Why, then, is it so hated?

The answer is never simple. From uneducated parents rallying behind favorite politicians to politicians flip-flopping because of upcoming elections, the entire thing has shifted away from the good it would do for the children to the emotionally charged knee-jerk reactions of the parents. For the wide majority of the states, educators fully support Common Core, but their support seems to fall on deaf ears.

Puerto Rico has its own Common Core Opinion

Though Common Core has been a highly controversial topic within the states, most news agencies forget that it hasn’t just been affecting them. In fact, all US territories have been offered the chance to adopt these new educational standards, including Guam, the American Samoan Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Of these territories, it’s Puerto Rico that has resisted adoption entirely, joining the ranks of Texas, Alaska and Oklahoma.

A Failing System

The story of not adopting the standards is inextricably tied to Puerto Rico’s current failing economy. With no power to vote, the country has been nothing but a slave to American interests based on economic needs and wants. Having been abused for so long now, the country has amassed a stunning $72 million in debt worsened by the decreasing population as those that can move somewhere else, do. To put this into perspective, Puerto Rico is twice as poor as Mississippi, the poorest state, but has double the cost of living.

What does this have to do with education?

Everything.

Much like rural school systems in the states are often years behind their more affluent city counterparts, Puerto Rico is doing everything it can to stay financially afloat including slashing an already depressingly low school budget. In the face of such a budget, the last thing the country needed was to add a curriculum that would cost money the country doesn’t have to implement in accordance with US design.

Pulling Back from Education

A recent report from former IMF consultants found that if Puerto Rico where to lay off teachers, drastically cut education spending and a variety of other steps, they could begin to get the financial situation under control. However, it’s also widely recognized that a stronger economy requires a good education system in order to keep the work force strong. It’s become a catch-22 that both students and teachers are ready to protest.

Is there a solution? At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a clear answer. After all, the problems are highly varied and not entirely clear themselves. The one thing they all agreed on, however, was that Common Core was not needed. To a country in their position, Common Core is a hope for a future where the educational system isn’t continually threatened by the economy.

In the end, Puerto Rico isn’t against Common Core so much as it is unable to hold debates about it. There are far more pressing matters looming on the horizon, making these standards seem trivial in light of trying to keep money in the school system. Provided financial hope can be cultivated, there may be adoption plans for the future. For now, however, the Core isn’t even important enough to spark the widespread debate seen in the states.

North Dakota’s stance with Common Core

When North Dakota adopted the Common Core on June 20, 2011, it signed up as one of the last states to join. However, instead of finding itself suffering from whiplash brought on by opponents, it’s managed to perform one of the few, smooth implementations of the standards. Even so, this year did see a rather strong push to have the Core taken out of the state.

Defeating the Bill

As far as Core controversy goes, North Carolina has managed to stay out of the spotlight for many years. They brought in the new standards, put them to use in the classrooms and that seemed to be the end of it. Then, in 2015, House Bill 1461 came to light, demanding the state withdraw from Common Core altogether. Interestingly enough, the Bill was actually divided into two parts.

The first, Division A, required North Dakota to withdraw from the Core’s standardized test, Smarter Balance. This section was surprisingly torn, with a final vote of 43-46, falling to defeat by only three votes. Standardized tests are never positive subjects, so it came as no big surprise to find such dissent, especially with the bad stories about Smarter Balance emerging from other states.

The second, Division B, called for the total cancellation of the standards and was defeated 89-0, proving that the state stands firmly behind the standards. In fact, legislators at the hearing cited that the majority of educators across the state stood behind a Core that was developed for the state by the input of over 130 educators from North Dakota. To the parents that would argue the standards are too hard, representatives ask them why raising the bar is such a bad thing.

Parent Opposition

In light of the defeat, upset parents have been voicing their concerns that the state just isn’t listening, citing the 1,400 petitions around the state calling for the Core’s removal. Many talk about being worried about how such changes are affecting the children. In response, lawmakers point out the absurdity of getting upset over a test that hasn’t even been given yet. In the end, though, the parents opposing it aren’t loud enough to force the legislature into overthrowing a stable system the teachers are now integrated into.
In amongst the debates flying across the nation about the validity of or unconstitutional reach of Common Core, North Dakota remains a fervent fan even in the face of a few upset parents. To their educators throughout the state, the changes have all been for the better, and they have never been more ready to implement the new standardized testing than now. So long as the standards do what they promise and North Dakota adheres to them, their future looks much brighter due to the greater educational challenge.

New York’s adaptation of Common Core

Adopted July 19, 2010, New York brought in the Common Core standards in a very similar fashion to the rest of the US. Though initially planned to be put into practice by the 2013-14 school year, it has since faced an extension as educators and parents continue to vehemently express their concerns. However, such a move is leaving the state without a way to hold their teachers accountable for poor performance.

More Time

Though everything was supposed to be ready to go by the end of 2013, New York’s Board of Regents, the group responsible for overseeing all educational activity of the state, managed to delay the implementation by five more years, promising even the class of 2022 that they won’t be held to the standards. On top of this, they also granted teachers a two years’ reprieve from any type of consequences stemming from the new standardized test being given.

According to the group, they have heard concerns from both teachers and parents and feel everyone still requires more time to adjust accordingly. Many see this as an understandable reaction since just last year the new statewide exam was given, resulting in plummeting test scores. Many immediately blamed those in charge of the state’s educational system, citing that they failed to prepare classrooms enough for the change.

More Money

Of course, this change doesn’t come cheaply. In fact, this new course comes with a price tag of $525 million that will be used to train teachers to implement the standards. The Governor was less than pleased to hear this, especially since the teachers wouldn’t be held accountable for two years. In retaliation, he called for a serious re-examination of the ability of the Board of Regents to perform correctly, citing the two year grace period as yet another way for them to block the implementation of any kind of teacher evaluation system. One, he says, that is desperately needed.

However, not everyone is upset. The many legislators on both sides of the fence that were pushing for a delay understandably fully support this decision. It’s a step in the right direction to these supporters, giving parents, students and teachers what they’ve needed to ease most of the concerns.
In New York, the question isn’t about whether to get rid of Common Core, it’s about whether or not it will ever be implemented. Already the official switchover date has been pushed back nearly a decade in addition to postponing the general exam’s ability to prove or disprove a teacher’s abilities. No matter the outcome, the schools now have plenty of time to figure out and implement the Common Core standards that are so much tougher than New York’s previous requirements.

Missouri’s Common problem with the Core

Much like almost every other state in the US, Missouri jumped on the Common Core train, officially adopting it June 15, 2010. Unlike other states that had delayed negative responses, the state has been fighting opponents ever since the agreement was made. Though the Core remains, it’s the standardized test that eventually cracked under the weight of so much pressure.

Hilarious Retorts

The biggest argument against the Core is that many see it as an overreach of government power in regards to the education of the nation’s children. After all, each state has remained in charge of its own state’s educational standards for generations. Though the standards are entirely adaptable for each school to fit exactly what the states desire, it nevertheless makes the more conservative groups wary. In response to this, some state legislators tired of hearing the argument have offered payment to cover the cost of enough tinfoil hats for those that are paranoid about the Core.

Cutting the Exam

The Core did go into implementation under the full acceptance of transitioning to its Smarter Balanced exam, however, it ended up being the exam that led to actual government retaliation. The story goes that everything was ready to go. The teachers and educators found Smarter Balanced to be a decent test. Even so, as it turns out, Smarter Balanced failed to uphold its end of the bargain in regards to supplying certain resources and materials. This led to Governor Jay Nixon slashing $4.2 million from the education budget that would have paid for Smarter Balanced.

Does this mean Common Core will eventually be seen out? No one is quite sure. At the moment, it seems only the lawmakers know what they’re doing, and they’re remaining silent. Some, though, are discussing this step as the first toward Missouri developing their own learning standard with the hopes of rolling out a Missouri test in 2016.

All the same, the Common Core will remain in place until there are Missouri standards to replace them. To come up with these, an advisory group made up of legislators, educational leaders and certain parents are working to a common goal. In the meantime, many educators are left frustrated at the lack of communication, citing that they have no idea what’s going on or even what’s going to happen. All they know is that Smarter Balanced is no longer a worry.

An Unsure Future

Currently, the Common Core is under review by the state. Once the results are in, suggested tweaks and changes are expected to be made by the 2016-17 school year, implying that Missouri will work to keep the Core. Troublingly, though, such a controversial educational implication is having trouble garnering high enough attendance rates for these review groups, making the controversy around it seem a bit put on. Whatever the case may be, it can be safe to assume no calm will be reached until the upcoming election season ends.

New Mexico’s Common Core Adoption

Common Core appeared in New Mexico on November 29, 2010 with full support by the state. Unfortunately, such acceptance hasn’t lasted, turning it into a hotbed of protest not seen in even the most conservative states. While New Mexico has yet to join the increasingly long list of states to drop the Core entirely, it is nevertheless demonstrating signs of discontent from the usual parents and, more interestingly, from the students as well.

Initial Support

When the Common Core became an option back in 2010, Governor Susana Martinez grabbed hold and purported it to be the educational change the state needed to finally help it reach a competitive status in regards to national and worldwide educational standards. Behind her stood the Secretary of the Public Education Department, Hanna Skandera, loudly trumpeting New Mexico’s exemption to the Now Child Left Behind bill because of the switch to the Core, freeing the state from arguably restrictive measures.

Six Years Later

While it started fierce and fiery, support has wavered. Instead of seeing academic growth, reading and math scores are stagnant and ACT scores have even dropped. The new curriculum even shifted graduation standards, resulting in a drop in graduates. Due to this, many parents are taking advantage of the option they have to opt their children out of the Core.

Unlike the other states, however, it’s not just the parents crying out against the Core. Earlier this year, students in Albuquerque took a stand against the PARCC assessment test used to grade students on their Core aptitude by holding a walkout. A few hundred students joined in even though administrators warned them of consequences. Outside, they stood along the road with signs, getting passersby to honk in support.

The Core versus PARCC

While this may seem like a stand against the Core, it should be noted that PARCC is not a part of the Common Core curriculum. It’s merely an assessment test designed to examine students’ knowledge of the Core standards. Much like all statewide exams, though, it fails to actually provide an accurate representation of the students forced to take it. Because this was its first year counting toward graduation, many students became angered that a new test would determine if they were smart enough to graduate or not.

In light of this, Governor Martinez noted that the state has been preparing for years for this test. In reality, the thousands of other students that did participate reported nothing out of the ordinary save for the occasional computer glitch. Such information hints at the fact that students will never appreciate being judged by a number on a paper even though the SAT and ACT has been doing so for years. As far as the Core and PARCC are concerned in New Mexico, it seems the negativity is being focused on in spite of successes across the state.

No Common Core for Virginia

Of the 50 states, seven decided against adopting the Common Core standards with Virginia being one of them. Their decision was based on the fact that they had already poured large amounts of money into developing a statewide standard, the Virginia Standards of Learning, which Virginian educators see as being superior to the curriculum set forth by the Core. Because of this, Virginia has proven to be one of the few states that has avoided the hot topic debate since opponents to the Core became vocal around 2011.

A Decade Long Adaptation

Virginia’s decision not to adopt the core was not made lightly. While the federally funded standards cost over $4 billion to piece together, Virginia’s own curriculum also required an incredible amount of funding. On top of this, the state’s standards have been honed over a period of 10 years, steadily adapting to the challenges and rigors of each subsequent generation of Virginians.

Though the Standards of Learning have proven to be effective, this doesn’t mean the Core went by without any kind of consideration. In fact, many educators compared the curriculum between the two options and then adjusted the state options accordingly. It is one of the few states that maintained a level-head as it found a realistic way to satisfy the Common Core without signing on to any national program. In addition, the entire system has remained familiar to both students and teachers, saving them from the outrage recent Core test PARCC has caused this past school year.

A State on a Mission

Virginia does not pretend it is perfect. While states like Texas seem to have been offended at the idea of better standards for the children, Virginia has welcomed the challenge, openly admitting that there are still many areas they can, and will, improve upon. One way they plan to do this is by placing a greater emphasis on reading and math during the early years of school, saving math and history emphasis for later. This wouldn’t mean dropping the subjects altogether, it would simply mean either broadening or deepening the talk based on the importance of the subject at the specific grade level.

This way of thinking is in direct contrast to the mentality of the other states now trying to buck the Core. Virginian educators see this as a challenge for their state. Once met, they hope to achieve a statewide standard that is “fewer, clearer, higher” than the Core while still providing the children of the state every opportunity they need to succeed after graduation.

As for the future? Virginia is staunch in its stand against the Core. By utilizing its benefits, they have peacefully integrated in the next generation of what the world expects from coming generations. Since it is working so well now, there is absolutely no need by the state to make drastic conversions.