In his 2013 interview with Thomas Friedman, Tony Wagner made a claim that Ed2S readers won’t be surprised by:
Reimagining schools for the 21st-century must be our highest priority.
To do that we need what Wagner calls ‘Accountability 2.0.’
Our educational system is certainly a testament to the motto: what gets measured gets treasured. So what do we treasure in the 21st century? And how do we measure those things? One idea would be to develop a better test. Yet as Doug Reeves (2010) explains:
Developing better test of student learning in the 21st century is as futile as attempting to find a faster horse and buggy would have been in the 20th century. No amount of training or discipline would make the horse competitive with the automobile, airplane, or space shuttled. The nature of the horse makes such competition impossible. Similarly, the nature of testing – with its standardized conditions, secrecy, and individual results – is antithetical to the understanding, exploration, creativity and share that are hallmarks of a new framework for assessment (306).
This idea that a test might not be the way to measure what matters runs counter to assumption that has guided educators for the last fifteen years. It also is a difficult idea accept given that it is certainly true, as Porter-Magee and Borgioli (2013) explain in their defense of standardized tests, that “there is real content that students need to master; there are questions that have right and wrong answers; and there are many skills that can be evaluated using well-crafted standardized tests, including even the multiple-choice kind.” Despite that fact, reimagining school means reinventing how we hold schools accountable.
So here’s a question to ponder on your Monday:
If not tests, then what?
We may not know the complete answer yet, but that shouldn’t stop us from considering what is possible.
Porter-Magee, K., & Borgioli, J. (2013, February 14). The Four Biggest Myths of the Anti-
Testing Backlash. The Education Gadfly.
Reeves, D. (2010). A Framework for Assessing 21st Century Skills. In 21st Century Skills:
Rethinking How Students Learn (pp. 305-326). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.