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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The New Student Performance Measures 06-18

The New Student Performance Measures

One of the many extraordinary conundrums facing educators at the moment is the disconnect between how students are currently measured and how it is the society they’ll graduate into would prefer they’re measured.
Bubble tests give us measures of students’ ability to memorize lectures and materials. Scores from ACT and SAT indicate readiness for higher learning. Bachelors and Masters degrees declare an acceptable aggregate score from a range of tests has been achieved.
But according to research by Gallup, there is a negative correlation between standardized test scores and entrepreneurial activity internationally. Why is this important?
While today’s employers look at college degrees as necessary – as an opening ante in the evaluation of an individual’s qualification for a job – the degree represents very little of the skills and abilities actually required in the 21st Century.
First and foremost, every citizen must have learned how to learn. Lifelong learning is a requirement for citizenship in the 21st Century. But beyond that, citizens must possess skills like collaboration, problem-solving, collegiality, and, yes, entrepreneurship in order to be productive, contributing members to society today (and to live richer, more successful lives).
These can be tough to teach and measure—tough, but not impossible.
In a talk by Brandon Busteed from Gallup earlier this year on their fascinating research into how people can be best optimized to learn and grow, he talks about new ways to look at student readiness for higher learning and careers after college. At the center of their findings are key factors called hope, engagement and well-being. They refer to these as the Economics of Human Development.
According to Busteed, hope, engagement and well-being account for one-third of the variant in student success, but we are not measuring it in practice. Moreover, Busteed says standardized tests are only intermediary steps to measuring everything we should be to more accurately determine a person’s readiness for citizenship, work and life in the 21st Century. If we combine standardized (a.k.a., bubble) tests with experiential and behavioral economic measures, we are able to better see a person’s true learning and potential.
Busteed recommends that one-third of how we measure students should be via the traditional standardized test; the next third via experiential measures; and the final third according to their formula for behavioral economics.
My company, Pathbrite, has been at work building and delivering the mechanism for the second and third pillars of these three measures—the experiential and the behavioral. Portfolio teaching, learning and growth enables applied learning – or learning by doing – and provides an evaluation mechanism that is both subjective and objective. It enables the student or the lifelong learner to make visible all the evidence of their learning and achievement, and, importantly, provides an effective mechanism for ongoing reflection.
Perhaps most importantly, however, portfolio learning and growth provides a way to engage with students that leverages all the tools of the 21st Century while helping learners understand where their strengths and interests lie. It also provides the mechanisms to illuminate the pathways that get students to where they want to go. And it gives students a greater sense of control over their own learning and destinies, which is a huge contributor to feelings of hope and an overall sense of well-being.
Bottom line? Portfolio learning in the classroom and in the workplace enables the articulation of goals, objectives and, finally, hope. It’s time we move beyond the bubble test once and for all.

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