When you consider our current education system, and evaluate the system on a holistic scale, we are close to perfect. The only thing that really prevents any sort of change, is our assessment.
Unfortunately, this is the largest area that could possibly need improvement, and because of that — the United States education system looks so completely disastrous.
Although it’s only one area, it’s the worst and most complicated to amend.
Throw in companies that have billions in the assessment industry, and the results of which are as bias, predictable, inaccurate, and unfair as the tests are themselves. Some companies are responsible for the curriculum, the content standards, several means of media interpretations of content in every subject, and assessments that are used on a state level.
Think of that.
These companies dictate proof of quality, on a state level, and we all have to adhere to those results which are to drive our instructional direction.
If we constantly teach our students to pass a test, using the curriculum that the test makers gave us, with the support that the test makers allow us to use — where on earth is the ability to think differently?
What about the bad test takers?
What about the hands on learners?
What about those that don’t need the highest score, because sometimes those courses spend more time prepping kids to take the assessment that the company/state mandates, and lose the chance to truly focus on student interests, student learning trends, and increase student engagement?
The assessments drive instruction in America. And therefore is so impactful, that the only thing that is wrong, dictates almost everything else. Think about it.
Those assessments tell us that kids can’t read or write on grade level in 9th grade, and our English teachers in 10th grade see that, and make changes to the curriculum selections. Instead, why don’t the teachers plan theme instructions, and genre introductions, and let students explore which ones they are interested in most in order to drive their ability to even want to learn better at all.
Learning can’t be about the product.
The results of the product can drive learning — but they can not be the only factor that does. When we lose sight of this, and focus on test scores and passing percentages, we need to evaluate the root of the cause, the actual learning process itself.
Is what is being taught, meeting the needs of the learners in the room?
Is the delivery of instruction effective?
Are your scaffolded efforts appropriate?
Have you modified and offered choice?
Seeing a student learn to enhance literacy skills throughout the course of a novel, or even a Shakespearean play, was monumental — and to me what meant for real learning. If I knew a kid was reading it every night and coming in with a hundred questions — it was my goal to get them to know the answer before they left.
If a kid fails a test — does that mean they will never ever pass it?
If that’s not the case, why do we weigh so much value on the results to where people lose their jobs?
What if an assessment was a portfolio of growth, evidence of skills and knowledge are portrayed in different ways, and maintained in a place somewhere in the virtual world — so they can use it for after they graduate?
What if from 9th grade on, students had a progress score that fluctuated as they went? Break up learning into skills and curriculum into content hubs. Make a menu of options for students to select based on subject, and have a time based accumulation of successful completion of these units, be considered credit bearing.
I bet this will make students want to learn.
I bet you will see real results.
And I know you wont have to spend millions on assessments, prepping for state assessments, adhering to improving in areas that the assessments tell you to, by buying the brand that makes the assessments supportive curriculum.
Make learning about the learning, and watch how that makes our US education system be so close to perfect — it would be amazing.
We can do everything else well already.
We can fund.
We can innovate.
And we wouldn’t have anything but true professionals at the helm guiding the process with the students.
Principals and Administrators are facilitating.
Teachers are the drivers of the needs.
Students are in control of the direction and path all to themselves.