GUEST COLUMN: Why our industrial age schools are failing our information age kids

Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 05:10 PM.

•  Time-based student progress: Currently students in a class move on together to the next topic according to the calendar, regardless of whether they have learned the current material.  Slower students accumulate learning gaps that make it more difficult for them to master related material in the future, virtually condemning them to flunk out. The system is designed to leave many children behind.

A paradigm designed to leave no child behind would allow each student to move on as soon as he or she has learned the current material, and no sooner.  This requires “personalized learning’’ and “learner-centered instruction” that is both high-tech and high-touch.

•  Standardized and other broad tests: Rather than evaluating a student based on how much he or she has learned in a certain amount of time, such as a 9-week period, each student should be evaluated to determine when the material has been learned, so we know when the student is ready to move on. This is called “criterion-referenced assessment,” a different paradigm from “norm-referenced assessment.”

“A big test with 20 different topics, as we use now, shows only how much a student knows compared to other students,” Reigeluth says. “In the Information Age paradigm, all students are expected to finish learning whatever they undertake to learn. Like a Boy Scout working on a badge, each student continues to work until the material is mastered.”

Assessments, then, are incremental and cover a single competency, or a small set of competencies. They certify mastery while also helping guide learning by showing students what they need to continue working on.

•  The traditional grading system: The traditional grading system indicates how well a student performed compared to the other students in a class – a tool that is only effective in sorting students. It’s not an effective way of guiding and ensuring individual student learning, and it tells you little about what the student has learned.

“Rather than achievement reflected as grades on a report card, it would be reflected as lists of skills and concepts that the student has mastered,” Reigeluth says.



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