Google+ Badge

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

It's Only a Matter of Time: The End of Grade-Level Tests

I believe it's only a matter of time until we see the end of grade-level standardized tests.

Unlike programmed robots, students learn at different rates, and everyone knows that what one fifth grader may know is not the same as what another fifth grader knows.

For those who are constantly trying to keep up for many reasons, current testing is frustrating and does not lead to empowerment.

What would be better is a series of tests that students take and pass when ready.

For example, there are fifth graders who are ready to master a third grade test, and there are fifth graders who could probably pass an eighth grade test or even a college admissions test. There is a great range.

That same third grader who is ready for the third grade test may also be the best basketball player, singer, artist or social person in the class.  A bit behind the grade level expectations in one area does not mean "behind" in all areas--we all master skills and competencies at different rates and ages, and in somewhat different ways too.

To keep the current age-grade configuration of learning organizations simply doesn't make sense in many ways, and I predict we'll see a change in the next ten years when it comes to foundation skills' competency testing and the way we organize learning organizations too. We may also see the introduction of the essential skill "chip" that simply gets embedded which means no more endless hours of rote skill practice.

Online venues like Khan Academy and other grow-at-your-own-rate learning tools are leading the way in this regard.

In the meantime, how do we continue to teach well so that every student makes progress with essential skill and knowledge while also mastering and forwarding their own interests and passions. I'll be thinking about this as I continue to craft learning experiences that blend multiple tools and resources with the aim of helping every child move forward in empowering and engaging ways.