Posts Tagged ‘individualized testing’
Yesterday I read two online articles that seemed separate enough, but I realized they were pointing to the same thing.
[image source, used under CC licence]
The first was provocatively titled and its premise was that historical and political baggage influenced the perception of standardized testing. The blogger then reasoned that if the baggage was removed and the form of testing was given a different purpose, specifically “to care more about child development and cognition rather than efficiency and saving money”, more teachers would jump on board.
I think that the word “standardized” is the more basic obstacle. It implies a fixed time, place and medium, as well as a one-size-fits-all manner of measurement. While these are good for the quality control of factory-produced goods, they are not neccessarily suitable for people.
On the other hand, consider how institutions like the School of One or Pershing Middle School, mentioned in the second article, approach learning and testing. The child does not adapt to the curriculum. Instead the curriculum is moulded to the child and it also moulds the child. Here’s a snippet of the report:
After introducing content, teachers can immediately test students using remote devices attached to their netbooks. Students are then assigned to appropriate practice activities or more in-depth lessons. “The wait time for getting feedback to children is sliced significantly. This is about the speed of learning and the depth of learning,” says Sarah Sullivan, the principal of San Diego’s Pershing Middle School.
How might we begin to individualize testing? The same article offers this approach:
Although the Burst program suggests only face-to-face lessons for students, its underlying assessment relies on sophisticated digital tools for gathering and analyzing data from individual students. “It’s this model of deeply analyzing the data in a way that no human teacher would have time to do, and mapping lessons to kids’ abilities, that’s fundamental to what education is going to look like in the future,” predicts Wireless Generation’s chief executive officer, Larry Berger.
Good stuff, but it sounds like something out of reach of most schools and teachers. Something that teachers can do now is what Shelly Blake-Plock does:
For several years, Shelly Blake-Plock has asked students in his Latin, English, and art history classes to summarize what they’ve learned from class and document their progress on assignments in daily blog entries… If he observes a lack of basic understanding or language skill in some students’ work, he says, he can suggest online resources and activities to get them on track.
I can vouch for this simple strategy because I do this myself when I facilitate my ICT course. Blogs give me deep insights into my teacher trainees’ thoughts, problems and interests. I look back at the RSS feeds of their blogs that I have archived since July 2007. Despite the course being long over, occasionally I will see entries of updates in their lives as teachers.
Monitoring these feeds and responding to them does not add very much more time to what I already do, which is to monitor the almost constant stream of other RSS feeds, tweets and email. It’s a digital world and we have to live, teach and learn that way to stay relevant!