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Typing to the Test

In our technology age, learning to type is an important skill.  But is it necessary to learn that skill to a young child in first or second grade?  Thanks to Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Computer Assessments, the answer appears to be “yes.”   The Washington Post reports that students in kindergarten are now learning to type, a subject that was previously taught in middle or high school.

Of the major shifts taking place in American classrooms as a result of the new national Common Core academic standards, one ­little-noticed but sweeping change is the fact that children as early as kindergarten are learning to use a keyboard.

A skill that has been taught for generations in middle or high school — first on manual typewriters, then electric word processors and finally on computer keyboards — is now becoming a staple of elementary schools. Educators around the country are rushing to teach typing to children who have barely mastered printing by hand.

Proponents of Common Core like to pretend that these as only standards and NOT curriculum.   But the honest truth is that what is tested is what is taught.  The fact that teachers and schools must spend precious school hours teaching typing to a seven year old, is evidence that they no longer completely dictate what they do in their classrooms.   Beginning in third grade the tests will require them to write a story on the computer.

Third-graders will be asked to write three short pieces, according to Laura Slover, who heads one of two consortia that are designing the tests. They will read a nonfiction selection and a literary passage and write about each, and they will be asked to write a story based on a real or imaginary experience, Slover said.

Proponents of the Common Core like to pretend that Common Core is just a standards and does not dictate curriculum or what is taught in the classroom.  This story indicates the opposite. What is tested is what is taught.   Typing was not a skill many thought necessary to teach in lower elementary until the Common Core and assessments came on the scene.    But now we have teachers forced to not just teach but type to the test as well.