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Saving money at what cost?

Trisha Stichler

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Typical school systems today have not evolved enough to completely remove paper from courses they’re currently offering. Paper allows students to be educated in ways that staring at a screen does not. It gives them the chance to revise their work, to annotate books, and to take notes in a way that they can understand. In order to successfully replace these capabilities within school systems, the schools would have to spend a hefty amount of money on not only devices, but also programs that would allow students to get the same experience as they would just using paper.

Bowling Green High School English teacher, Jennifer Dever, believes that while it may save the environment, it would be nearly impossible. She noted that we, as “students or teachers, in a lot of cases, have not evolved to the point where we’re comfortable with having only online information.” Removing paper from her classroom would add unnecessary difficulties to students that they may not face if they were able to annotate their books or physically write notes. According to Dever, “students can read better on paper because they can mark it up and work with the text, work with manipulating it, annotating it.” Lindsay Levans, a BGHS Math teacher, agrees. She mentioned that in math, taking notes technologically would “be ‘scary’” as they would not look as nice and would make understanding the concepts she’s teaching more difficult for her students.

Levans mentioned that it would “be nearly impossible to function” without paper and that it would take a lot of excess time and work to completely restructure her course around technology. Being that teachers already spend time outside of class working, and they spend their preparation periods getting lesson plans ready, they would have to be asked to come in for even more time to become comfortable with technological programs, and troubleshooting the difficulties that may arise. Asking them to come in outside of their normal classroom times could potentially decrease morale and would require them to be paid more, thus adding to the already heavy proposed technological budget.

Not only would teachers be asked to come in for additional hours, but also they would have to spend a larger sum of time handling cheating. Using only technology could increase the amount of opportunities students have to cheat. Using paper for homework or classwork holds students accountable by showing their handwriting. However, if everything was typed, then students could easily, thoughtlessly, copy and paste someone else’s work. Homework is a tool teachers provide to help students learn better at a faster rate and practice the material they are learning. If students don’t actually spend the time doing the homework, “will they be learning to the same extent? Questionable- it would be questionable,” Levans asked. Beyond homework, Levans added that tests would have to be taken online. Without proper browser lockdown programs (which would cost the school even more money), testing online could enable students to cheat by communicating with peers or using other search engines, such as Google.

Beyond being expensive and risky, going paperless could dramatically decrease test scores for students. This is because most nationwide standardized tests are given with paper and pencil. These tests include the notorious ACT and SAT. These two tests are used for college applications and financial aid scholarship applications to determine student success. Basically, what a student scores on either the ACT or the SAT plays a big role in determining their future. Students need to feel comfortable and prepared going into these tests or they may not score as well. Taking away paper in their high school wouldn’t allow them to practice writing with only a paper and pencil. If a student grows up only being taught how to use a computer, they will be far less prepared for those tests than a student who grew up being taught how to use paper and pencil along with computers.

While many standardized tests are moving digital, there is no saying that tests like the ACT or SAT will also be changed so they can be taken online. If that were to happen in the future, then maybe paperless would be a better option. However, as far as schools are concerned, those tests will continue to be given with paper and pencil. In order to prepare the students in the most beneficial way possible today, schools should continue to teach their students the necessary skills of paper and pencil writing.

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The student news site of Bowling Green High School
Saving money at what cost?