Analyzing Academics

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Analytical Academics: How Are Schools Serving Their Students?

Most people would agree that education is not one-size-fits-all. The existence of public, private, vocational, and other specialized schools alone shows that different people require different settings to succeed. Since 90% of students in the United States are enrolled in public school (Bouchrika), they are likely the best source of objective information on the progress and needs of our country’s students. Ask any statistician and they’ll tell you how difficult it is to collect information on an entire population—this is why the process of sample taking exists. This is to say that studying and understanding the needs of our 50.8 million students in public school is very challenging and, if we are to do it with the care and patience it requires, demands quite a lot of resources. Through standardized testing, the government has seemingly filled the need to assess the quality of education—but is this method actually effective? Or does it simply act as a way for determining how to allocate funds, often furthering the neglect that underprivileged areas suffer from? With the ever-increasing capabilities of technology, there is more potential than ever to reform our schools, but the state fails to provide them with the means needed to capitalize on them. By increasing funding for public institutions and incorporating technology more heavily into education, schools can increase their ability to provide information to the government, strengthen the technological skills of youth who will be growing into a tech-based society, and eliminate the need for external standardized testing.

In 2021, technology is more powerful than ever and becoming stronger and more capable every year. Sadly, many schools lack the funding they would need to take advantage of this. At Baruch College, where I’m currently a student, many teachers aren’t even provided with basic resources like whiteboard markers. It seems ironic that a school known for its Finance program would be unable to incorporate writing implements into its budget. This isn’t an anomaly, sadly. George Elford, a 30-year veteran of educating and educational reform activist, said this about the lack of funding for public education: “If the military were at the same level of technology as the schools, we would turn on our TV’s to watch an attack on the Taliban by U.S. Marines hurling boulders using catapults”. Although Elford is likely being hyperbolic, this is probably not too inaccurate. For 2022, the White House requested $715 billion for the defense budget (Maucione), compared to $102.8 billion for education (NASSP). No matter how this is justified, the difference is very significant. Additionally, $102.8 is the budget proposal. This will likely decrease once Congress puts the final budget into action. Needless to say, the Department of Education would likely benefit from an increased budget, and as a result, so would public school students who are oh-so-often underprivileged.

With an increased budget, investing in technological advancement for public education would become very possible; however, what would this look like? How should educators utilize technology to improve the outcomes of learning? Additionally, would this improve our ability to analyze these outcomes and use it to make objective judgments about our students and the programs created for them? Since 1920, standardized testing has been the core of assessing schools. Since they are created externally, they aim to hold public schools accountable to standards other than the ones they set themselves (Gershon). This does seem like a good thing, and many critics of it frequently reference biased sources that are clearly against standardized testing as an institution (Phelps). Objective data for understanding and evaluating our schools is very useful, and much needed for determining how to better serve our students—but this is not exactly how the data is used. Typically, testing results contribute to how funding gets allocated to specific school districts. This essentially turns student success into economic capital. As schools succeed, their funding increases. Without getting too deep into critical race theory, this inevitably leads to a disparity in funding for different communities (Hardy & Lewis).

As a proposed alternative to standardized testing, George Elford agrees that investing in technology is the best modus operandi. What Elford proposes is replacing standardized tests with “standardized judgments”. This means that the way that the teachers who are actually instructing the students would have an established rubric for evaluating their students, and that the information they gather would become the primary source of accountability and objective data. To gather and organize this data, Elford suggests that we invest in a “school- and teacher-based instructional management system” that would “would support and utilize the richest source of accountability information, the presently untapped knowledge in the minds of teachers”. He goes on to say that the technology is already available, but because technology is so rapidly growing, he does not suggest a specific kind, as it may quickly become outdated. To replace the legacy system of standardized testing and implement Elford’s model, additional funding would be required for advancing the hardware and software in our schools, as well as supporting the transition educators would make into the adjusted pedagogy. This system would offer more personalized, descriptive, and unfiltered data on how our students are doing than the secondary source of standardized testing. It would more accurately capture the needs of our students and could potentially bring about a new age of technology-driven academics. As technology grows, it becomes more and more inevitable that almost all occupations will require skills in technology as well. Thus, as it could be used to evaluate students, it might also become an essential learning outcome.

Approximately 6.37 billion people (80.7% of the world’s population) own smartphones. According to most models, this is likely to continue to increase every year for the foreseeable future (Turner). That’s 6.37 billion people who can easily access the internet and find the answer to almost any conceivable question. Use of the internet in an academic setting ought to be encouraged, as it could provide people with better skills at interpreting information, evaluating sources, and problem-solving. Additionally, technological proficiency is an invaluable attribute of a modern employee. As education has become “a requirement for a job with decent wages” (Journal of Developmental Education), schools must adopt stronger tools to develop the tech skills of our youth and fuel the potential of what technology can provide us with. As Elford outlines, technology can reform the way we evaluate our schools and our students—but we have so much more to gain. We live in a world where traveling to Mars and starting a new civilization isn’t out of the realms of possibility. If students are taught to use technology and encouraged to use it to problem-solve, their potential for changing the world (and generating capital, as our society demands in determining self-worth) is limitless.

As time passes, it’s inevitable that methodology becomes outdated. Advancements in technology are the reason why we don’t see Elford’s catapult-wielding Marines. They are the reason why I’m typing this essay comfortably from my bed as opposed to in front of a wall-sized super-computer. It’s time to embrace technology and improve accountability in our schools, the capabilities and potential of our students, and the ability for information to be accessed anytime and anywhere. Despite familiarity with modern tech increasing with each new generation, it’s easy to forget how new a lot of it is and how little most people take advantage of it. To push for increased adoption of technology is to push for the increased potential of our society, and it’s hardly even an argument at this point.

Works Cited
“Biden’s FY 2022 Budget-and What It Means for Education Funding.” NASSP, 2 June 2021,
Bouchrika, Imed. “101 American School Statistics: 2020/2021 Data, Trends & Predictions.”,, 27 Aug. 2021,
“Developments.” Journal of Developmental Education, vol. 38, no. 2, National Center for Developmental Education, Appalachian State University, 2015, pp. 36–36,
Elford, George W. Beyond Standardized Testing : Better Information for School Accountability and Management . Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2002. Print.
Gershon, Livia. “A Short History of Standardized Tests – JSTOR DAILY.” JSTOR, JSTOR,
Hardy, Ian and Steven Lewis. “Funding, Reputation and Targets: The Discursive Logics of High-Stakes Testing.” Cambridge journal of education 45.2 (2015): 245–264. Web.
Maucione, Scott. “DOD Budget Largely Flat, Cuts Legacy Systems for Modernization.” Federal News Network, 1 June 2021,
Phelps, Richard P. Defending Standardized Testing . Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates, 2005. Print.
Turner, Ash. “How Many People Have Smartphones Worldwide (Oct 2021).” BankMyCell, 1 Nov. 2021,