Are you serving the learner or the score?

Based on the title of the post, “Are you serving the learner or the score?”, it would be easy for educators to say “both.”  This is not about an “either/or” mentality, but focusing on where you start.

Here is scenario A:

When we talk about “teaching to the test,” the initial focus is on the “score.”  Serve the learner by helping them do well on the test. But what if the student did well on the test, but none of the content was remembered or understood a week later?  The “score” trumped the learner, and ultimately, the learner didn’t benefit.

Now let’s reverse the thinking.

Scenario B:

The test still lingers there.  But you understand the learner in front of you, start personalizing some aspects of the learning to what they are interested in, and they started to dive deep into the content that they are “tested” on.  The learner can do well on the test AND understand the learning on a deeper level.

The second scenario is easier said than done, especially since teaching is becoming more complex, with no end to the intricacies in sight. Change has always happened, but the rate that change is happening in our world is so fast that we will have to understand that there is no end to the rapidness in sight.

This “consistent complexity” is one of the reasons we need to focus on the learner more than ever.  Education is not the only profession in the world that is in a constant state of change, and our students will be dealing with this rate of change in no matter what they do, both personally and professionally.

One of my favorite quotes on the topic:


The constant focus on “innovating inside of the box”, is necessary in our world today. Students are expected to do the test still, and it would be irresponsible for me to tell any educator that it’s not essential.

What I am saying is that we do not have to sacrifice one for the other.  If you focus on the learner in front of you, we can still meet the constraints of “the box”, but if we focus on the score first, we might lose the “learner” along the way.

Source: George Couros