Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How can we tell if they've learned it?

Learning is an ongoing process that needs multiple and varied opportunities to demonstrate. At Van Meter Schools, we believe in a caldron of assessment measures that show learning. We show learning through self-assessments, products, performances, and standardized assessments. Any one assessment by itself doesn't show the full picture of learning. This may be a difficult concept to grasp sometimes, but think of the parent who states the low state test score isn't an accurate reflection of what their child can do. Aren't they right? Does ITBS/ITED for example, show a child's passion for comic books? Does it show the creativity and writing process that a child may go through to create their latest story? Does it show the growth in a child's ability to design and speak about their solution to a problem?

The greatest change in learning today is that information is not a secret held by the few who paid for it (through serious school loans). Have our assessments changed to reflect this? Information is abundant. Adults, educators and parents are not the "know it all's" we could once pretend to be. And even though we are admitting that we don't know everything, we are needed just as much to guide learners through the information abundance! Our system needs to change to show what real learning is. It isn't trivial pursuit. It isn't a multiple choice test.

Learning is creative, collaborative, full of problem solving, sharing ideas with diverse audiences. It's evaluating all the information that's out there. It's questioning "truths" and serving the people of this planet in a way that goes beyond Van Meter, Iowa. How do we assess that with a test?

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