Professor to evaluate technological literacy of nation's children

After years of testing students in basics such as reading, writing and math for “The Nation’s Report Card,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress will turn its attention to the technological prowess of the nation’s students, and Oklahoma Christian University professor Philip Patterson will serve on the panel that will shape the questions.

Patterson will be representing the approximately six million children in private schools and the outcome of the panel’s work will shape the NAEP test from 2012-2027. This is the first time technological literacy has been evaluated on “The Nation’s Report Card.” NAEP is the only group empowered by Congress to measure the condition of education in the United States.

Patterson, who is also president of the National Christian School Association, which accredits schools nationally, is pleased at the fit between the thrust of Oklahoma Christian University and the work of the panel.

“I am excited about getting to help assess this crucial matter,” said Patterson, a distinguished professor of journalism. “If schools know that tech literacy will be tested, they are more likely to teach it. That means colleges get the benefit of better qualified students, as well.”

During the next 18 months, Patterson will make several trips to Washington, D.C., to help evaluate current and proposed assessment models with the committee, which is comprised of technology experts, engineers, teachers, scientists, business representatives and state and local policymakers. Patterson’s first meeting is Dec. 17. The root of the committee’s work is determining how to evaluate if children are comfortable with and objective about the use of technology – neither scared of it nor infatuated with it.

According to Patterson, one reason he was chosen was Oklahoma Christian University’s reputation for graduating technologically literate students.

In 2001, the university became one of the first in the nation to offer campus-wide wireless Internet service and a free laptop to every full-time student. Just this year, Oklahoma Christian became the first university in Oklahoma to offer all students free Mac book computers and iPhones, as well as specific classroom applications for students to download onto their devices.

“It is a great honor for Philip to represent all of private K-12 schools in the nation,” said Oklahoma Christian President Mike O’Neal. “His leadership represents the type of excellence that we value in our faculty.”

According to NCSA member David Fincher, Patterson’s selection was a logical choice.

“This appointment reflects the respect Philip has attained as a national leader in K-12 private education,” said Fincher, president of Greater Atlanta Christian Schools. “Because of the respect he has achieved, the rest of us in Christian education are perceived a little better as well.”