It's not a new question, but it's certainly a divisive one -- how to best measure student learning. As the Department of Education works toward finding a way to assess student learning beyond what most agree are sub-par standardized tests, and movement for opting out of assessments grows, educators and those who work in the education system are attempting to define the criteria for themselves.
At the Big Ideas Fest a few months ago, where teachers, administrators, entrepreneurs and policymakers gathered to parse valuable ideas and figure out how to bring them to action, we asked a few participants their opinion on how to measure learning. Their answers showed the broad range of the differences in opinion.
"It depends on how you define what we mean by learning," said Neeru Khosla, founder of CK12, a nonprofit open education source for free Web-based content in the form of digital "Flexbooks." Our current form of assessment only measures what students know "in the moment," she said. But what we should be measuring is dynamic learning -- how students can understand a concept and how they can apply it based on what information they have.
Art teacher Constance Moore from Oakland, Calif., suggested that students assess their own work. "They can reflect on their own learning and drive their own progress so they can take it where they need to go," she said. It's unfair to use the same measurement for every student, she said. That kind of assessment has no meaning.
Kaycee Eckhart, who teaches at Sci Academy, a public charter school in New Orleans with a high special education population, believes she would do a disservice to her students to dismiss standardized testing outright.