Let’s Try a New Bold Experiment

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Reposted from Janine’s Blog:

The testing of every child every year began as a bold experiment in 2001 as part of No Child Left Behind. The theory of action was that if we could expose the truth about student achievement and provide appropriate “carrots and sticks” for success and failure, we could improve education for all children. The goal was for all children to reach proficiency within 12 years. That has not happened. Our bold experiment has failed. We are now in the midst of a new bold experiment as we begin using new standardized testing aligned with the Common Core State Standards. This time, for the first time, states are making these test results integral to teacher evaluation. But there are some huge problems with our new experiment.

Student assessment is an important part of the educational process. Teachers need to understand how students are progressing toward their educational goals so they can adjust instruction accordingly. What if we were to only allow assessment that would provide teachers with actionable information regarding student progress? Forget the high stakes. Let’s build systems with more frequent assessments, that are part of the instructional process, and give teachers the information they need to move students forward. Teacher evaluation would focus on HOW teachers understand their students’ needs and HOW they use this information. Students would advance in grade levels and programs based on this information. If we are interested in understanding the performance of a school or district as a whole, we can look at what students are doing in terms of advancing from one level to another. 

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