This spring’s crisis-driven transition to distance learning was a major disruption. However, it also presented an opportunity to reimagine traditional education.
If you haven’t already, consider redesigning your academic program to subscribe to a student-centered, outcome-based education model, rather than delivering a standards-based education.
In this paradigm, existing graduation requirements, sequences, and program syllabuses will be deconstructed and replaced with teaching a set of skills, abilities, and proficiencies. Traditional summative testing becomes student-centered formative assessments. A student-centered, outcome-based methodology often better recognizes achievement and progress in proficiencies that enable students to become successful citizens, friends, and family members.
“This is the way we’ve always done it” no longer works.
What does your current curriculum help students accomplish? How does the subject matter connect and apply to life outside school? How could you transform what you teach?
On average, students remember about 50% of what they are taught. What 50% do you really want them to know?
Additionally, soft skills are proficiencies that ensure success throughout a lifetime. How can you help your students be critical thinkers and proactive problem solvers? Resilience and the ability to get along with others are essential for relationships, careers, and achievement.
What Does Student-Centered Assessment Mean?
If you’re looking to move to this educational model, the first question is: What does student-centered assessment mean?
Student-centered assessment is formative, not summative. Achievement and progress are recognized and students have opportunities to continually revise. With student-centered assessment, teachers provide meaningful, actionable feedback and encourage students to use a growth mindset. This empowers students to believe they can always learn more.
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What Does Formative Mean?
Formative assessment is not an instrument or an event. Instead, it is a collection of practices that improve a student’s ability to learn. This process requires students and teachers to catalog evidence of learning over time through performance tasks. Teachers then use that evidence to inform their instruction, adjusting as necessary to move the learner forward.
Because feedback is so important, distance learning makes formative assessment more challenging but not impossible. Teachers still need to check for understanding and provide necessary feedback. Having conversations with your students remains the most meaningful way to qualify each student's progress.
When you’re conducting distance or blended learning with formative assessment, be sure to schedule sufficient time with each student to assess what's been done and to provide feedback.
Goals, Not Grades
Another element of student-centered, outcome-based education is graduation requirements. In place of the traditional model, outcome-based graduation requirements must be defined.
Schools can choose which relevant skills to measure and how students demonstrate mastery. The key is to select a limited number of measurable performance categories. Think about what proficiencies your school wants to emphasize. Some examples might include science standards, cultural competency, research skills, and numerical reasoning.
Think about how progress in your chosen areas can best be reflected in reporting and credit. Proficiency areas chosen by the school or the student can be evaluated by displaying the student's current level against a predetermined rubric. Report cards could employ radar graphs or other visual representations. These evaluations say more about the student’s capabilities than a number or letter grade.
While developing blended and online classes for the fall, seize this time to examine your practices and make needed adjustments. What can be improved for the benefit of your current students and future graduates?
Review the proficiencies you want your students to master. Adopt a student-centered approach to assessment that emphasizes feedback, growth, and achievement. Turn this disruption into an opportunity.
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