Thursday, May 22, 2014

But that won't help our test scores...

I'm obviously proud of where I work and I'm proud of the work we are doing. I've been in my current position for two years now, and we've done a lot of great things these last two years. Some of these great things include:

Starting a student-led instructional technology team to help teachers integrate technology.

Getting social media filters and many blocked websites removed to enhance authentic learning.

Starting a robotics program at our HS and at two of our elementary schools.

Going K-12 BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).

Going 4-12 GAFE (Google Apps for Education). 

Beginning a HS MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) program for students giving them choice & autonomy in their learning.

Now, it's easy to see there is a 'technology' trend here, but I see this trend as much more than just technology. I see the trend as a shift in learning and a shift in how we approach personalized, differentiated, and self-driven autonomous learning.

So here's the thing, I've heard on a few different occasions a comment from educators that is strong enough to shake and rattle you right down to your bones.

'Ya, all that is great and neat and all, but that won't help our test scores.'

This is the type of comment that just hits you like a ton of bricks and almost makes you sick to your stomach. Now, this comment I honestly believe is in part because folks feel the pressure of standardized testing. I don't really believe educators see these changes as negative or bad for kids, but rather they view it as a misalignment of district resources, time, and believe our focus should be on 'improving test scores.'

For the record, I'm still not entirely sure what a focus on 'improving test scores' looks like, but I'm pretty sure the focus won't be on encouraging a personalized, differentiated, and self-driven autonomous learning environment.

Either way, we've got great educators who feel they need to focus on the 'test' while pushing everything else that we know is good for kids to the side.

My challenge to you is to fight that push and fight that pressure and keep the focus on doing what is best for kids. At the end of the day, I honestly believe doing what is best for kids will speak for itself when it comes 'testing' time.

I want our conversations to be about what 'exactly' is best for kids, not what can we do to prepare for them a test...