President Obama seeks to end the ‘status quo’ of education law. He got it right that schools are struggling to meet the requirements of the act and Duncan said “under the current law, it’s one size fits all. We need to fix this law now so we can close the achievement gap.” We are talking about designing a quality education that measures how students are improving. I’d like to propose a new movement that defines what quality education means. One size does not fit everybody so how do you define one type of education?
Not only do we have to call for more flexibility but be real about where students are. Not every child is ready or right for college. If we compare our students to students in China, India, and Brazil, then maybe we need to look at those students and where they really are based on achievement, prior knowledge, and goals. The students in these countries and others are tracked. We are comparing all of our children on their college bound students: the best of the best.
We measure all of our students…that is… the ones that don’t drop out. We base the tests on standards. The problem with the way state standards and Common Core standards are designed is that they are separate skills that don’t connect to the real world. Tests teach to each standard. This type of assessment is confusing for the test-taker and difficult to design.
Instead of focusing on each standard and how to teach to that standard, I suggest designing real-world projects or activities that meet those standards. You can map your curriculum and standards and even design collaborative projects with other teachers.
The Obama Administration has invested $350 million to support states in their efforts to create more sophisticated assessment systems that measure problem solving and other 21st century skills and that will provide teachers will timely information to help them improve instruction.
So in defining quality education, problem solving and 21st century skills, let’s look at authentic assessment i.e. portfolios. The portfolio is a collection of evidence of learning. Some of the evidence includes tests, essays, presentations, pictures, and reflections.
Questions to reflect on:
How do you measure improvement? How do you design this new type of learning environment that measures success of each student? This is not going to be easy but I’m up to the task. Are you?
I am ready to play a role in making this happen now! I’m particularly interested and burdened by the assumption that students with individual learning differences may not be included in the same types of assessments. It’s all about accommodations and modifications on an as-needed basis. We’ve been denying the reality that every student has the capacity to demonstrate 21st century skills through action, performance, and articulation…it does not have to be limited to reading, writing, ‘rithmetic and the traditional models for teaching, learning and assessment.
Let’s capitalize on the ‘strengths’ model and dismantle the traditional modes of “treatment” and pre- and post-assessments to determine effectiveness. They all have a place, but in the world of work, will this be happening? What about honoring the “compensatory skills” and “funds of knowledge” that students already possess?
Thank you for a different approach and belief system!