Ontario testing of students’ literacy and math skills to go digital

KATE HAMMER

EDUCATION REPORTER — The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Sep. 10 2014, 11:48 AM EDT

Thank you Kate Hammer for this article. It is interesting to see that Ontario is piloting the digital testing.

“The agency responsible for measuring the reading, writing and math skills of Ontario students announced Wednesday that it will be going digital.

Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) is poised to introduce an online version of its Grade 10 literacy test in November. About 1,200 students at 30 high schools will take part in a pilot version of the tests in the coming weeks, sitting at computers instead of at desks with a booklet and a pencil.” See full article.

Online testing in schools

Qwertynomics Typing program for children

I would like to ask a few questions.

  1. Are we testing students’ knowledge or their ability to use a computer to input the information?
  2. Are we preparing them to use the computer effectively?
  3. Why are we not teaching them to type at an early age?

Knowledge or Ability?

I believe that online testing in schools is great for taking them into the 21st Century. This is the pen and paper of the future, although I am not saying that children should not learn to write.

We need to ensure that students are being tested for their knowledge on the subject and not for their ability to type and enter data into a computer. If they are focusing on finding the keys, and hunting and pecking at the keyboard, they are not completely focused on the content.

Did you know that when you touch type, you are using a different part of the brain than the part you use when you hunt and peck at the keyboard? Learn more …

Essential 21st Century Skills

Whatever happened to teaching typing skills in Grade 9? Long gone are the days when students chose to take typing to become a secretary. 96% of all jobs now require typing skills. Why is this not on the curriculum yet? It should be.

I often get asked, “What is the best grade in which to learn to type?”

After teaching over 1,400 students to type using and developing our methodology, the most optimized grade in which to learn how to type correctly is Grade 3. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The brain is mature enough to learn all the keys.
  • Students want to use the computer at home and at school.
  • They have access to digital devices from an earlier age.
  • They are used to accessing their cerebellum (muscle memory) by playing sports and musical instruments.
  • They can see a use for new typing skills and practice these in practical applications.
  • They have developed good reading, word recognition and spelling skills.
  • Their hands are large enough to reach most of the keys.

A few schools are allowing students access to a typing program, but children have reported that the program is either old, boring or not supervised.

After completing surveys and interviews with over 500 students in both England and Canada, it was determined that only 4% of students had completed another typing program, only 7% were using the correct finger position, and only 10% enjoyed the experience.

In comparison, after students had completed our Qwertynomics program, 95% of them finished the program, 97% used all ten fingers correctly and 95% enjoyed the program.

What do Educators think?

50 Educators in Canada were asked this question:
how important is that students learn to type

The results speak for themselves, so why are we not teaching students to type correctly.

Easy to use

Teachers find it easy to teach the Qwertynomics methodology in schools. After listening to educators, children and schools, we have developed an easy-to-use program, combining fun, user-friendly software, video training for teachers and students, quizzes and extensive reporting for teachers, students and parents.

All it takes is a one-day Qwertynomics training day.

Typing/Keyboarding skills need to be taught

Preparing students early for online testing is essential. Typing or Keyboarding, as it is often called, should be taught at school from Grade 3 or above before poor habits are formed. This not only impacts students’ literacy lessons, but increases their achievement in all areas of the curriculum.

If you wanted your child to learn to swim, would you just throw him in the deep end of the pool and expect him to know how to swim? No, you would not. This also applies to learning essential 21st century skills. There is a misconception that children will just discover this all by themselves.

Not only do we teach students how to touch type correctly within 10 lessons, but we also enhance their spelling, reading and writing skills, allowing them to concentrate on the content and not the process. Shortcuts enhance students’ productivity, and videos teach them about the importance of basic ergonomics and the simple changes they can make for better typing health.