[slides shared with permission of the authors]
The presentation above, by Doug Lyons and Andrew Niblock, is from a session which was a highlight of last spring’s NAIS Annual Conference, a session which sadly I was unable to attend, but about which I heard great things– and the slides carry much of that value.
This presentation covers terrain that I too spend a lot of time examining. (for comparison, see my presentation to the Canadian Heads at their annual meeting last year.)
I am very well aware that there are many fine minds and outstanding educators who are arguing against measurement in education– or for dramatically reducing the measurement we do of learning– or that much of what we most value is hard or effectively impossible to measure.
And certainly, there is a somewhat appalling misuse and abuse of student learning measurement data in the US today– of course there is.
But, my ongoing approach, aligned exactly with this high quality presentation, is that we seek diligently to improve and correct the way we use learning measurement, but not abandon or reject evaluating and measuring learning. Indeed, to best change education from its current course and to bring it to a far more student centered, 21st century oriented, technology accelerated, and innovative place, we have to have data to support our campaign and change current policies.
Among the things I appreciate about this presentation is its breadth, looking at both internal and qualitative ways we assess learning AND external/quantifiable ways. We have to look at this topic broadly– what gets measured gets done, what gets measured gets valued, we can’t manage what we can’t measure: these mantras are compelling and significant, and if we want to transform learning we have to transform what we assess and measure.
It is good too that it is built in part upon Criterion 13 of the Commission on Accreditation standards, which is essential to framing the issue of assessment in independent schools:
The Standards require the school to provide evidence of a thoughtful process, respectful of its mission, for the collection and use in school decision-making of data, both external and internal, about student learning.
This evidence is required for the accreditation of all independent schools in coming years, , as, I believe, it should be.
Some thoughts, comments, and observations on this presentation.
1. I love the citation from Ted McCain’s Teaching for Tomorrow–a highly valuable, but, I fear, highly under-valued, book on the topic. As they quote McCain:
“we need to invert the conventional classroom dynamic: instead of teaching information and content first, and then asking students to answer questions about it second, we should put the question/problem first, and then facilitate students with information and guidance as they seek the answer and hold them accountable for the excellence of their solutions and of their presentation of their results”.
In my own 2008 research visiting 21 schools and shadowing students at each, I found McCain proven right– that putting problems first made a huge difference. (more…)