The recent COVID-related learning-loss numbers are being lamented across the country, becoming yet another weight on the shoulders of teachers who are often working in less-than-ideal circumstances as staffing shortages continue to mount. While learning gaps in math and reading are something to be addressed, the opportunity to change our approach and revolutionize learning in education has never been closer to reality. So where do we go from here, and how do we leverage this opportunity to transform education in a way that benefits students, teachers, and districts?
Stop Measuring Against What “Should” Be
We’re all for establishing benchmarks and using data to obtain the insights necessary to personalize education for each student. However, holding students to a standard based on previous test scores or outdated benchmarks isn’t fair to students or teachers. Instead, we must strive to meet the students where they are and move them forward.
From early on in a students’ education, we focus on measuring failure. Spelling and math tests are administered so that we can mark what they get wrong. Standardized tests focus on how far beneath the average they are. We then assume that wherever students are measured at that moment academically is where they will remain. This places an undue burden on students and teachers to always approach education as if it is remedial. Instead, we should focus on student successes and strengths, on each student’s interests, and on finding ways to improve motivation, engagement, and subject matter expertise by teaching to their passions.
Employ the Right EdTech to Help Improve Skills Quickly
Not every student is going to be in the same place academically – and that’s probably the greatest challenge for teachers. How do you teach to a classroom full of students who have all made different levels of progress in the previous two years while mostly schooling from home? Instead of adding that kind of stress to educators, let edtech play a role in individualizing the education of each student. Encourage students to work on personalized tracks, measuring their individual progress against their own starting point. This will free teachers to spend more one-on-one time with students who need additional instruction and support without holding back those who are ready for more.
Recognize the Opportunity Rather than the Adversity of the Moment
We are being presented with an opportunity to revolutionize education – to move away from standardized testing and toward individualized learning; to move away from grade level placements and toward individual education goals; to move away from changing classes and teachers every year to assigning students to the same education team across multiple years. The education system was completely disrupted by the pandemic, but why would we want to return to a system that was already outdated and underperforming?
Redesign the Curriculum – Eliminate Standardized Tests
We are doing our students a complete disservice by clinging to the old way of doing things, simply because we’ve always done it that way. We’re not preparing them to get a job in the workplace. The future of learning should look and feel radically different. Placing the priority on learning instead of on meeting standardized test score benchmarks is only the first step in recognizing that standardized testing does not test students for the functional education that they need to succeed in society.
Preparing Students for the Future
Our education system literally has not been updated in over a century, so the changes that have happened in the last two years out of necessity are ones we should sustain. A well-educated society is the backbone of an economically strong, socially engaged country – but today’s students need more than just great math and reading scores on standardized tests. They need to be prepared for a future that is inimitably more progressive than the one that any generation before them has experienced.
The future of learning should be individualized. Assessments should not be used to penalize students but rather to help encourage and customize learning. And what students learn should be modernized and revolutionized so that the students moving through the education system today are prepared to live, work, and engage in the society of tomorrow. Learn more about how Lumen™ Touch is contributing to the future of learning.