With that being said I was still Pretty Sad After Testing (PSAT'ed) this week. As I walked past the proctored rooms full of fatigued student faces I realized that this test, while checking them in one way for possible college success, did not prepare them for 'real world' expectations. Many colleges have determined that these tests require students to memorize and regurgitate factual knowledge that can be Googled in a moment, rarely asking for creative/original thought, and thus over 600 no longer require them for entrance. No where in the standardized testing world have I witnessed a test that checks students for important skills like collaboration, ethics, technology literacy, big-picture thinking, empathy, resilience, grit, leadership, resourcefulness or problem solving.
When employers are asked about what what they want most in employees "at the top of their list are the three 'Cs': critical thinking, collaboration and communication." Can the PSAT, SAT or ACT honestly claim they measure any one of these well? Communication through writing can somewhat be checked (if the tester elects to do the writing portion of the these assessments) but even so real communication embodies verbal and non-verbal communication as well.
Okay, so what do we do then?
This past Monday I had the pleasure of dining with Executive Producer Ted Dintersmith before we watch his film "Most Likely to Succeed". Here is an excerpt from the film's website:
"The film inspires its audiences with a sense of purpose and possibility, and is bringing school communities together in re-imagining what our students and teachers are capable of doing."
Following the film I have been asked to be part of an expert panel that will discuss how education must change to give our students the best chance to be prepared for life. I have been mulling over what I hope to impart during my part.
In my humble opinion we need to begin to move away from standardized, summative assessments and instead begin using the 3 Ps; projects, portfolios and performances to check if students are ready to tackle our ever changing world of innovation. All of these items also need to be embedded in authentic environments where students can collaborate to solve problems.
Even nearly 100 years ago Albert Einstein knew that our current remember and recall type of standardized tests are not what is best for students:
"[I do not] carry such information in my mind since it is readily available in books. ...The value of ... education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think."
-Albert Einstein's response to not knowing the speed of sound as included in the Edison Test: New York Times (18 May 1921)
Hopefully we can work together in each of our communities (much like Ted asks for in the video below) to shift the reliance on standardized learning and standardized tests and instead make creative, adaptable, authentic projects, portfolios and performances the standard for our schools.