Question #1 – Education is currently experiencing a major student achievement initiative to reform curricula by remedying the discrepancy between the curricula guide, the instructional plan, and the variety of assessment measures. Why are multiple measures needed to address the full depth and breadth of the expectations for student learning?
The current tool used to determine individual student ability, and the effectiveness of schools and school districts, consists of a singular measurement assessment process. Though relatively easy to administer and evaluate, this singular assessment in my opinion does not provide an accurate representation of student knowledge and more importantly ability. Many of the current means of assessment are comprised solely of multiple-choice questions utilizing a pencil and a bubble-sheet; a method that favors students who possess strong reading comprehension skills. While I believe that reading comprehension is an important skill, it is only one of several multiple intelligences that students use in learning. Therefore assessments and accountability need to be based on valid and reliable information from multiple data sources.
Multiple means of assessment requires more planning and long-term, ongoing measurement. When conducted properly, measuring student learning is essential in order to gain a true understanding of student ability. The use of multiple means of formative and summative assessments provides appropriate evidence of student learning that can be used to help modify instructional practice to better meet students’ individual learning needs. Some of the multiple means of assessment include student portfolios made up of work examples, letters from educators, pre-tests and post-tests, writing examples, awards, proof of involvement in student organization, performance reviews, field experiences, and capstone projects. Ultimately, multiple assessment methods must provide a comprehensive view of student achievement based on the learning outcomes and expectations identified in the curriculum guide, not just a comprehensive bubble-sheet test that cannot capture the entire breadth of a student’s abilities.
Question #2 - If you were charged with the responsibility of developing a curriculum to focus on critical thinking, would you recommend developing separate courses, integrating critical thinking into existing courses, or using a combination of both approaches?
Critical thinking, as well as other 21st century skills like communication, creativity, innovation, problem solving, and collaboration, should be integrated into current courses. My belief is that we do not need to reinvent the wheel; just raise the level of the current pedagogical instruction.
Current and future teachers need to be trained to develop a class structure and teaching practice that encourages critical thinking that enable students to have the freedom to ask questions and take intellectual risks. This can be facilitated through...