Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Tim Kaine, D-Va., have successfully offered two amendments to Federal legislation that are aimed at better understanding the impact of smartphones in the classroom.
During a December 12 Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee markup session, those two amendments were added to the Advancing Research in Education Act (AREA), and the bill was approved by the committee on a 20-1 vote. That vote sends the legislation to the full Senate for further consideration.
The AREA legislation would reauthorize and makes changes to the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA), the Educational Technical Assistance Act, and the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Authorization Act. ESRA authorizes the Institute of Education Sciences, which is the statistics, research, and evaluation arm of the U.S. Department of Education. The bill also reauthorizes the Educational Technical Assistance Act, which provides technical assistance to educators through Regional Education Laboratory and Comprehensive Centers.
The first of the two amendments would direct the Statistics Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics to collect data on school, local educational agency, and state policies pertaining to student smartphone use, including policies that prohibit smartphone use by students.
The second amendment would direct the Research Commissioner of the National Center for Education Research to assess how student use of smartphones during instructional hours has affected academic achievement or youth mental health. It also would assess school, local educational agency, and state policies pertaining to student smartphone use, including policies that prohibit smartphone use by students.
“The negative impacts of social media on the well-being of our children are becoming more and more evident. Nearly 60 percent of students self-reported that they are using their phones for non-education purposes during class instruction – commonly for texting and checking social media,” said Senator Romney.
“Curbing the non-educational use of smartphones in the classroom may not only help raise students’ GPAs and increase their focus, but also help improve the mental health of our students,” the senator said. “I’m pleased to see my amendments unanimously approved by Committee – it’s imperative that policymakers have access to evidence-based information before implementing changes to help our students improve their health and academics.”