I had the opportunity to meet with some colleagues today to discuss revisions to our Division’s reporting of student achievement. There has been a great deal of rich discussion and creative thinking around ways to report that could potentially leverage teacher practice and improve student learning. At a pivotal point for me during the meeting, we examined a document recently put out by Alberta Education called Inspiring Action on Education (found at http://engage.education.alberta.ca). The document lists some key competencies for the 21st century learner. They are:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Social Responsibility and Cultural, Global and Environmental Awareness
- Digital Literacy
- Lifelong Learning, Self-Direction and Personal Management
- Collaboration and Leadership
- Creativity and Innovation
Now, this is not the first time I’ve seen this document, and I know that there are many versions of it out there, but it was the first time I had considered it with respect to how we report student achievement. I think these are all things that most of us would agree are fairly important for students to be compentent with as they continue to maneuver through the 21st century. My question to the group was, instead of reporting by subject area, why would we not assess and report according to these competencies? If these are the things that we think really matter, why not be direct about it, and place it firmly at the center?
Of course, this would be a significant change to how we do things, and the people around the table had varying perceptions of how this would be received by teachers, parents and students. But consider how this would impact the classroom environment. If we’re not reporting and assessing according to subject area, but according to competencies, the focus would be entirely different, and many of the barriers we experience today would really just go away. Think about how we struggle to differentiate our instruction or make the learning meaningful because we are so focused on the content and the knowledge outcomes. Think about how we group students in classes and how that might change if we were more focused on how the learner needs to be able to operate in the real world. I haven’t even begun to explore the depths of this, and I know I’m quite certain I’m not the first to consider such things, but what if?