Eighth-graders' scores on Maine's most recent annual achievement test are refueling the debate over that state's groundbreaking effort to give laptop computers to students.

Middle-school students who used laptops for two years performed about the same on a standardized test as students in the past who did not have access to computers, the results indicate--though laptop-equipped students did show gains in writing.

Critics of the state's laptop initiative say the scores are the first real evidence the program, which has cost the state more than $15 million so far, is an expensive fad. Proponents


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