Hi Molly, so the school year is officially over!?
Yes. The classrooms have been cleaned out and we look forward to next year.
Wow. So what was new this year?
I’d say the debates have begun and it seems this year was THE year that real action is happening. There have been debates about Common Core, how it gets implemented, the good/bad of No Child Left Behind, High Stakes Testing… so many topics!
I know Common Core was a big conversation piece this year…
Well, it is huge this year, and the reason is because Common Core has begun implementing the metric to assess students using the Common Core criteria… and it’s stressful because they’re still vetting the tests… and well… you can’t vet something until you’ve used it! So there’s a lot of questioning and uncertainty regarding both implementation and authenticity of the test and results.
And those are the “high stakes” you have mentioned previously?
Yes. They’re high stakes tests… which control access to classes, resources for both schools and children, and used to evaluate programs. Parents and students have protested or opted out of testing. It demonstrates a flaw in our system where we need to look closely at to remedy.
So when you say “remedy”, what do you mean?
Well, this year there has been some major responses to the system in real ways. We are working with several districts across several states who are implementing alternative ways of assessing students. At Novare, we see the change that is happening right in front of us. This year has been very special.
Ok, looking at the year, what would be the highlight and lowlight of education in America this academic year?
Hands down, I think one of the lowest parts of education this year that has come to the forefront is the stress that we put on children… I live in Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, and am witnessing what is happening in the Bay Area with suicide rates among teenagers soaring.
- Santa Clara County has one of the highest rate of youth suicides in California and it is trending up.
- Each day in our nation there are an average of over 5,400 attempts by young people grades 7-12.
This is terrible!
That’s horrible. How are schools dealing with this?
Schools are dealing with it by addressing how to deal with stress instead of focusing on what is causing the stress. It’s a systemic change. It’s not schools or parents… it’s really a societal issue with expectations on children being unrealistic … Soooo much stress that teachers are cheating and going to jail (which also happened this year), and children are throwing up on their bubble tests, and you know it just has to change.
Yes, agreed. Just awful. I’d love to switch gears and ask you about the highlight!?
Ha. Yes, well there are positive changes this year. The highlight of this year is the movement that is happening across the nation… to really look closely at education and to see what can we do to improve it. There is excitement with Project Based Learning, you can see the movement growing… you see it in other words as well…design thinking, 21st century skills, Competency Based Education, Reggio inspired… it’s happening!
This movement, to me, is incredibly exciting and you can see it’s truly happening in states like New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Department of Education is developing a state-wide performance assessment system that will balance local control with state-wide accountability and comparability. New Hampshire is working with the Center for Collaborative Education and The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment to pilot this program in four districts this coming year. They are striving for a balance of assessment that will help students be college ready with a deeper understanding of learning. That means giving students projects and helping them develop communication and organizational skills. Along with these skills will be an ability to articulate and manipulate the content in a way that truly demonstrates mastery of learning.
I’d say that was a big win for students and teachers. I mean, you have got to love New Hampshire, they’re motto is “live free or die”!
Well that certainly is a positive thing. It’s really about looking at education from a fresh perspective.
Completely. Education isn’t static and change can be exciting. We are evaluating what we do and why. What is the best way to do something? What’s the best way teach? What’s the best way assess? What’s the best way to get the information we need? In the past there’s been tradition and you’re stuck with the way we’ve always done things and what we’ve always had… but now there’s this feeling that we don’t have to settle or use what we’ve used in the past, we live in a very technologically advanced society and if we approach it right, we can leverage all of our resources and steer education away from stress, cheating, suicide, teaching to the test and toward deeper learning… and I think that’s the most exciting thing this year…
Now that IS positive and exciting! What a great way to end the year! Thank you so much Molly for spending time with me each week.
Thank you. And I want to truly thank all of the trail blazers out there making things happen. It’s not a top down scenario, every person is important and it is because of every single one of us that this shift is happening.