Schools give up on laptops

Giving every student a laptop is a hot idea. But some schools that were the first on the bandwagon are jumping off, reports the New York Times. Laptops don’t improve achievement, administrators say.

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. — The students at Liverpool High have used their school-issued laptops to exchange answers on tests, download pornography and hack into local businesses. When the school tightened its network security, a 10th grader not only found a way around it but also posted step-by-step instructions on the Web for others to follow (which they did).

Scores of the leased laptops break down each month, and every other morning, when the entire school has study hall, the network inevitably freezes because of the sheer number of students roaming the Internet instead of getting help from teachers.

The district, outside Syracuse, is phasing out laptops.

“After seven years, there was literally no evidence it had any impact on student achievement — none,” said Mark Lawson, the school board president here in Liverpool, one of the first districts in New York State to experiment with putting technology directly into students’ hands.

A study by educational consultants found one quarter of the 2,500 largest school districts give a laptop to each student; half expect to have “one-to-one computing” by 2011.

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  1. wayne martin says:

    Here is the final report on the LapTop program:

    It’s a 171 pages long, so it’ll take a couple of hours to read through this paper and see what went wrong in the LSD.

  2. Amazing it took this long to determine what should have been obvious from the beginning.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    You don’t use a laptop to press flowers. I suspect some students use books to conceal cribs and Tijuana Comic books, my generations’ porn.
    Some students might work around a keystroke register, most would not. The construction trades adapt to new materials and methods all the time. Education should do as well.

  4. I run an ed tech blog over at and so needless to say… i love education (I am a teacher) and I love technology. However, what this study has discovered should have been obvious, as stated already. Technology can never replace good pedagogy, yet we think that it will. We think that if we put an iPod or laptop into the hands of every student, these students will automatically become the best students you’ve ever seen. That’s ludicrous. If a student doesn’t care about his schoolwork now, give him a computer and all your doing is giving him one more thing to tinker around with instead of his homework. ’nuff said.

  5. So to make technology viable in the classroom we need a better grade of student?