The study indicates that after schools banned mobile phones, test scores of high school students increased by 6.4% of a standard deviation, which they say means that it added the equivalent of five days to the school year. It goes on to say the results indicate the ban has a greater impact on special needs students and those eligible for free school meals.
Research (such as this study from Teachers College) has long showed that paper and pencil assessments severely underestimate the achievement of students accustomed to a digital world. Our student’s brains have indeed been rewired for the 21st century where innovation and creativity are valued over the drill, kill, and bubble fill requirements of outdated tests.
In fact, we need to stop assuming that cell phones are weapons of mass distraction, and start embracing them as tools of engagement. Nearly 60% of teens use their own mobile devices in school for learning even when schools are not supporting such use. Savvy teachers who are tapping into students' love of texting are helping them increase their literacy skills too. Numerous studies have shown that the more kids text, the more literate they become. One study from California State University found that “texting can improve teens’ writing”; others from Cambridge Assessment and Coventry University have corroborated this conclusion.
Scott McLeod puts it this way, "Low-level work isn’t very interesting or engaging to many (most?) students, particularly those who already find that traditional schooling doesn’t meet their needs very well. So, faced with the opportunity to do something else, many students do." McLeod, challenges educators to consider a third option: Actually doing higher-level learning and USING the smartphones to help with that?