Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pudding

Anyone who reads this blog (anyone? anyone? Bueller?), knows that I am not a huge fan of bubble tests. They have their place in educational assessment, but that place is a fairly narrow one. It is a far cry from the be-all-and-end-all that they have become as a measure of success at the school, classroom, and individual level. If we really want to know all the "adequate yearly progress" a school makes with its students (and not just their left frontal lobes), we will need to measure many, many more things than reading and math scores. If we really want to know the value a teacher adds over the course of the year, we will need tools that measure engagement and love of reading as much as reading skill level. If we really want to know what a student has learned after a week, a unit, or finally, a year, they will need to make the pudding and we will need to eat it.

"The proof of the pudding is in the eating," as the original saying goes. In other words, the real test of anyone's knowledge is in its demonstration and application, not its merely academic (see meanings 3 and 4) performance on a test. Rather than write an essay, write something worthy of being published in a newspaper or magazine. Rather than read a short story and prove that you have comprehended it by choosing one of four right answers on a standardized test, read a short story and produce a YouTube video of the same themes in a different genre (e.g., if it was sci-fi making it a vampire movie, if it was drama make it comedy, etc.) Number of views can be part of the assessment rubric. Rather than complete a math worksheet for homework, plan, operate, and run a small fundraiser for a local charity.

This is why real world learning holds such promise for the future of education. I have recently been learning about Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy's New Pedagogies for Deep Learning. This is indeed the direction we need to be heading. Getting out of the school building, both to learn and to prove that one has learned, is a welcome change from the cycle of tests that prove only that you can move on to the next level to take more tests. The proof of the learning is in the doing.

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