Diane Ravitch recently published in the Huffington Post a really nice piece about what she views as a much better paradigm for accountability — one based on much better indicators than large scale standardized test scores. This does indeed offer a much better and much more positive and supportive accountability alternative to that with which we have been “dealing” for the last, really, 30 years.
The key components of this new paradigm, as taken from the full post titled, “A New Paradigm for Accountability: The Joy of Learning,” are pasted below. Although I would recommend giving this article a full read, instead or in addition, as the way Diane frames her reasoning around this list is also important to understand. Click here to see the full article on the Huffington Post website. Otherwise, here’s her paradigm:
The new accountability system would be called No Child Left Out. The measures would be these:
- How many children had the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument?
- How many children had the chance to play in the school band or orchestra?
- How many children participated in singing, either individually or in the chorus or a glee club or other group?
- How many public performances did the school offer?
- How many children participated in dramatics?
- How many children produced documentaries or videos?
- How many children engaged in science experiments? How many started a project in science and completed it?
- How many children learned robotics?
- How many children wrote stories of more than five pages, whether fiction or nonfiction?
- How often did children have the chance to draw, paint, make videos, or sculpt?
- How many children wrote poetry? Short stories? Novels? History research papers?
- How many children performed service in their community to help others?
- How many children were encouraged to design an invention or to redesign a common item?
- How many students wrote research papers on historical topics?
Can you imagine an accountability system whose purpose is to encourage and recognize creativity, imagination, originality, and innovation? Isn’t this what we need more of?
Well, you can make up your own metrics, but you get the idea. Setting expectations in the arts, in literature, in science, in history, and in civics can change the nature of schooling. It would require far more work and self-discipline than test prep for a test that is soon forgotten.
My paradigm would dramatically change schools from Gradgrind academies to halls of joy and inspiration, where creativity, self-discipline, and inspiration are nurtured, honored, and valued.
This is only a start. Add your own ideas. The sky is the limit. Surely we can do better than this era of soul-crushing standardized testing.