Grading is good at ‘encouraging people’ to do complicated tasks that are often represented by memorization, obedience and linear thinking. If those are our actual goals. If our goals are complex and include things like creativity… we’re looking to support intrinsic motivation. Grades don’t support intrinsic motivation.
One of the most powerful elements of the MTC design to date is the input they received from colleges in advance of launching the initiative. In discussion with directors of admissions and college presidents, Scott and his team found a receptive audience “if you can give us something that we can initially scan in two minutes”. It is also more than serendipitous that this effort was launched the same year that dozens of colleges and universities signed on to the “Turning the Tide” manifesto that refocuses college admissions on depth, interest, and passion, and away from multiple advanced placement courses, grade point average, and shallow community service experiences.
I also remember Scott Looney talking on the Modern Learners podcast:
I think that it is something that Templestowe College has touched in the development of alternative pathways to higher education. There is also a PYP primary school near me that has mapped out the various learnings and marks them off, I don’t see that as any different?
I still think though Audrey Watters sums it up best when she asks:
What is “competency”? Who decides? How is it different from current assessment decisions? (Is it?)
According to Will Richardson if the focus of ‘mastery’ is about better teaching then we are still missing the point.
The other thing to consider is the place of ‘grades’ in US schools. How prevalent are ‘grades’ in Australia? I am not against mastery or any such intervention, I am just mindful of it being seen as the solution.
Art tells us that educational assessment simply produces symbols that are at best a pale reflection of a preconceived reality. These symbols can be distorted and exploited, until one day their utility will diminish, and a new dawn will emerge.
It has been good to see some of the schools that I have spoken to really strip back some elements, especially in regards to specialists. It always amazes me the amount of time spent by a teacher who would potentially see the children for an hour a week.
It will be interesting to see if Gonski 2.0 brings any changes, but I guess that is your point about solutions being pushed on schools. I also look forward to reading ACER’s research into the area and the general guidelines that they put forward.
The glaring contradiction in the report, as I see it, its that it asks for massive changes to an assembly-line reality by advocating for more assessment assembly-lines. Ken Boston in his recent commentary speaks to this by advocating that this is a “evolution not a revolution.” What is missing from this argument for learning progressions is the assumption that learning can be standardized across children. Chunking a NAPLAN component a day or week turns teachers into test givers and paper pushers rather than gifted learning scientists negotiating each child’s journey through the curriculum so that they are engaged and inspired, not lab rats.
We are too often expected to create classes like the opera house, where a “successful” course gets all students, no matter where they come from or what they care about, to think “glacier” when given the right stimulus. To give the correct answer on a test given a specific predetermined question. But what would our classes look like if they instead replicated the experience of a sculpture garden, with that evocative face, filling me with a sense of wonder, compelling me to physically turn around despite myself and investigate a question I developed on my own?
We shouldn’t teach students. We should inspire them. And then we should get out of their way.
A learning management system of one form or another seems ubiquitous in today’s universities. We’ve grown so accustomed to them that we expect to use one even in our face-to-face classes. But their ubiquity brings with it their ability to change the way we see learning. What exists in an LMS becomes the way we see our classes. What if inside that LMS, the button students clicked when they finished a project read, “share my creation” rather than “submit”? How would that small change influence students’ relationships to their own work, much less the class they are a part of? These small reminders of authority structures appear throughout our environments. In my school’s LMS, I work with “users” in an “org unit”, not students in a class. Every time I see the words “org unit” I question how we view our institution and whether we really think we work in the best interests of students.
Friend suggests that rather than ‘teaching’ and ‘submitting’ work, we should be ‘inspiring’ and asking students to ‘share’ their work. Associated with this, rather than dictate the end outcome, allow students to interpret it themselves and provide their justifications for the standards:
My favorite way to assess students? Ask them. Ask them to show what they’ve done for a class. Ask them to show how they know they’ve achieved the course outcomes or standards or learning goals or whatnot. In an engineering class, ask them how they know they’ve solved a particular design challenge. In a science class, ask them how they know they performed a viable experiment and can trust their results. In a music class, ask them how they know whether their performance of a piece accurately or creatively interpreted the intentions of the composer.
Although Friend is talking about a post-secondary environment, this still has ramifications for primary and secondary schools.
In a Secondary environment, this allowed access to multiple stakeholders, both teachers and students. In hindsight, it did not work. Not only did students feel that reading was done to them, but it was also left to the English teachers. I reflected about it here.
When I moved down to Primary, I discovered the limits of capturing things like running records digitally. I can really see the possibilities of the pen in supporting this.
How do you see this continuing to evolve? Are students actively involved?
>Twenty-first century education is about skills—sets of processes. Our students need to be able to adapt to contexts, meet challenges, and solve problems that are as yet unknown. Our best chance at helping them succeed is to thus use assessment to support their learning about the sets of processes that they will bring to bear in those situations. Let’s focus on the skills, not the scores.://ssir.org/articles/entry/education_is_changingits_time_assessment_caught_up“>source