While the Common Core State Standards focus on math and English language arts, they also emphasize technology as a way to learn knowledge and skills in these areas.
On Wednesday, the state-led standards initiative published its recommendations, and states now will consider whether they want to adopt these standards or keep their own.
Basic technology skills will allow students to succeed in college and careers, said Chris Minnich, director of standards and assessments for the Council of Chief State School Officers, which coordinated the standards initiative along with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices.
That's why technology should be integrated into academics instead of taught separately. The standards include basic technology skills such as keyboarding that students must know to succeed, but in the bigger picture, they call for students to use technology to help them learn instead of just having technology, he said.
“Whether it be with using tools to solve math problems or using manipulatives in the writing process, we think technology is part of the solution," Minnich said, "and it needs to be viewed that way rather than a crutch that students rely on.”
The College and Career Readiness standards that anchor the K-12 standards call for students to learn skills through technology and multimedia. Mathematically proficient students should know which tools help them perform different tasks, according to the standards.
Those tools include pencil and paper, concrete models, rulers, protractors, calculators, spreadsheets, computer algebra systems, statistical packages, and dynamic geometry software. When making math models, for example, tech tools help students visualize the results of varying assumptions, explore consequences and compare predictions with data.
In English language arts, the standards call for students to use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing, as well as to interact and collaborate with others. This includes writing blog posts and commenting on blogs, as the students involved in the Comments4Kids project do.
Kids should also be able to evaluate information presented in different media and formats, according to the standards. Along with evaluating information, they should be able to produce presentations with digital media, which includes Web-based tools such as Prezi.
Throughout the year-long process of developing the standards, governors and chief state school officers in 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia gave their feedback. Texas and Alaska declined to participate. Nearly 10,000 public comments on the draft standards led to the final version, which states will decide if and how to implement.
The Badger State approved the standards the same day they were released.
"Wisconsin is ready to make the Common Core State Standards its academic standards for curriculum, instruction and assessment," said State Superintendent Tony Evers. "These standards are aligned with college and career expectations, will ensure academic consistency throughout the state and across other states that adopt them, and have been benchmarked against international standards from high-performing countries."
These standards don't cover everything that students need to know about technology because, after all, they are written for math and English, Minnich said. But within those two subjects, technology is in the right place in the standards documents: mixed in with other subjects.
“This is really at the heart of how students are going to get to these standards," Minnich said. "It’s not necessarily a part of setting the standards, but If we don’t use technology to get students to these standards, we’re missing a huge opportunity."