Monday, September 13, 2010

The New Assessments
"The New Assessments" is the topic over at National Journal's Education Experts Blogs, and I wanted to highlight Tom Vander Ark’s response. He summarizes as:
“I’d much rather see a marketplace of powerful instructional systems that invisibly embed assessment.”
I’d love to be building part of this marketplace.
The place where teachers collaborate to determine the common educational value of an instructional system. An exchange, if you will, which lives between Ohio’s flexcredit law, and Apple’s iPad educational app store. (ref Education Apps Review, check the “Grade Levels” menu.)

Take as example my instructional system which indeed embeds assessment. By fundamental objective, it allows a learner to master a rough outline of history. (In particular, it asks them to master 200 people and events commonly referenced in educated prose.)

SBAC, as Tom points out, would not accept that a student who masters all the levels has indeed learned something of core world history. It might later test him, but that test has lots of limitations and costs.

Chad Wick says we should have both PARCC and SBAC approaches. Tom’s adding a third approach. He asks, “how do we build a flexible framework that can incorporate lots of assessment data from a variety of sources?” Or, how do we go from uncoupled apps everywhere, to an ILS teachers can manage?

One answer would be to build on Ohio’s FlexCredit network. Engineer a marketplace/framework where teachers and students collaboratively determine the worth of various learning activities. Is mastering all the levels of whendidji worth five or eight hours of credit? Let the negotiations begin. Is it core or out-of-core material? Let teachers vote.

Finally, once a credit value was determined, individual teachers and schools, could add aggregate student’s credits perhaps via something like Edu2.0.

Beyond allowing more creative learning apps, the process would take power from the standards bureaucrats and put it in the hands of teachers. Not a bad benefit from a third approach–read Steve Peha’s response to why this is critical, why peer pressure should drive teacher performance.

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