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Computer-aided instruction.

A witticism attributed to Robert Solow holds that, "We can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics." There is widespread agreement that this paradox is a measurement problem--official price and output data are simply missing the computer revolution.

Every now and then, however, a shadow of doubt appears. Are computers truly an unalloyed boon for productivity? One recent example takes the form of a study, New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning, a NBER working paper by Joshua Angrist and Victor Lavy.

Their paper analyzes the impact of Israel's "Tomorrow-98" program, an ambitious effort to upgrade the computer resources available to elementary and middle schools in that nation. If one accepts average pupil test scores as a measure of output, then the authors' findings that there is "a consistently negative relationship between the program-induced use of computers and fourth-grade math scores" and "[f]or other grades and subjects, the estimates are not significant, though also mostly negative," are troublesome. Perhaps, the computer revolution is having a beneficial effect everywhere but in the productivity statistics and the productivity of the classroom.

This study, of course, is not, and does not purport to be, a complete productivity analysis. For one thing, there is little information on inputs to be matched with the data on educational outcomes. But Angrist and Lavy conclude by questioning whether those inputs appear to be justified by performance.
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Title Annotation:New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning study
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
Previous Article:Telecommuting or work invasion?
Next Article:Workplace practices and the New Economy.

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