- The Washington Times - Monday, July 19, 2010

I read Marybeth Hicks‘ column “Parents know computer dangers” (Culture, Tuesday) with great interest. She discusses a research study that was referenced in a Randall Stross opinion piece in the New York Times. This research study, conducted in Romania, concluded that home computers have a detrimental effect on student achievement. Ms. Hicks pokes fun at commissioning research to arrive at this conclusion because she sees it as obvious.

If Ms. Hicks dismisses social science research when she reads a study that supports her point of view, what does she do when confronted with research that comes to the opposite conclusion? For example, how does she explain the positive results of the Texas Technology Immersion Program, also in Mr. Stross’ piece, which found that low-income students’ test scores in reading and math went up by 7 percent and 20 percent of a standard deviation, respectively? This is a sizable impact. And how does she explain the positive results of our program at Computers for Youth (CFY), which has shown a statistically significant impact on math test scores?

A home computer coupled with targeted wraparound programming can have a positive impact on student achievement, whereas a computer alone may not. The Texas program, which served more than 7,000 students, included educational software and teacher training. The CFY program, which has served more than 23,000 families across the nation, includes award-winning educational software and training for both teachers and families. So, I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Hicks‘ assessment that parental involvement is important.

Even the authors of the Romania study state that wraparound programming may be beneficial and cite two studies that support this point. When you put children and computers together, the results are not so obvious. I believe the key take-aways from these studies is that broadening home computer access in conjunction with effective wraparound programming can be highly productive and should be pursued aggressively.

ELISABETH STOCK

Chief executive officer

Computers for Youth (CFY)

New York City