Heightened meaningfulness in the classroom?
Better cafeteria food?
I think one core answer is growth. We want our student to elevate their aptitudes.
Kids will come into our nation’s rooms this year with certain skill sets. The goal to which we should all aspire is that they leave our classrooms at the end of the year with improved and heightened abilities.
Their growth ought to mean something. If there’s no growth, it’s troubling. If there’s supreme growth it brings smiles.
However, this is exactly why our current system of assessment is so ridiculously dysfunctional. We don’t reward growth. We aim for arbitrarily chosen targets.
For example, I have kids that have come to my room with 4th grade reading skills… and have left the year at an 8th grade level. And yet, when it comes to the 10th grade tests, they paint my kid’s performance that year as entirely inadequate and underachieving. 8th grade skills in 10th grade student mean we are a failing school and I am a failing teacher, regardless of how much improvement was demonstrated.
It’s hurtful to the kid, it’s demoralizing to the teacher and it’s detrimental to the school. (They act as if I had my feet up on the desk reading the newspaper all year. Sheesh!)
However, if we used growth model assessments, suddenly we’d see a lot more happy face emoticons being implanted in the emails the state department of education sends to our school district.
Instead, because of the means by which assessment is measured, we are ostracized.
Does a 14 month old who does not yet know how to walk get ripped by their parents because the “average” 14 month old can walk?
Does the 5 year old who does not yet know how to write their name get shamed publicly because the “average” 5 year can achieve this task?
Of course not. We reward growth towards these target objectives. And, most importantly, we continue to teach – through praise!!
We continue to inspire and encourage. It’s just common sense.
Yet, does anyone in this country right now think our current form of assessment is characterized by words like encouragement, praise or inspiration.
And are not those some of the most effective tools of terrific teachers?
Screw up the bubble tests and you will be humiliated, scolded, reprimanded and threatened. Pass the bubble tests with flying colors and you’ll get a few checkmarks… maybe an “attaboy” here and there.
Is it not time we started to measure growth?