Future Focused Assessment - imagine if schools did no high stakes assessment...
Today I was lucky enough to attend the Ministry of Education Cross Sector Forum where they were launching the Digital Technologies curriculum draft (check it out here and provide your feedback).
It was an excellent event. The Lynfield College Robotics group kicked off the event, charming the room with their articulate argument for technology across and within the curriculum. Then our new Minister of Education, the Honourable Nikki Kaye, provided an excellent insight into her vision for education, I got the sense that the Minister is well positioned to prepare the sector for the exponential change that is closer than we think. Her vision for digital transformation was bold (the need for which was excellently articulated by Frances Valintine's keynote) and her message was clear - we need to act and we need act now! It was also clear that the Minister understands that there are very real issues with teacher wellbeing and workload and intends to address this head on as well. Good move.
This got me thinking, we need to to use this technology more effectively, we need to tackle the very real issue of workload and wellbeing, we want to develop this thing called 'learner agency' and want to personalise pathways and we really want NZ to lead the way.
Well I have a suggestion, I have a dream! Why the heck don't we just remove high stakes assessment from the clutches of these overworked teachers? Why don't we remove them from schools altogether? Why don't we make schools about exploring, experiencing, teaching and learning? There is a simple way we could do this. Why don't we support NZQA to develop a portal where by students submit their work so as to evidence their mastery of a specific skills when and if they are ready? Students could work strategically to build up suite of micro-credentials to make up the certification that equips them to enter their next stage of their education or pathway. Teachers teach, learners learn, teachers verify student work, NZQA facilitate opportunities for learners to evidence their learning and assess their skills.
Imagine the flow on effects, teachers would be freed up to do all the creative stuff that can get squeezed out of the school day, schools could genuinely focus on teaching and learning, exerting energy on assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning. Schools would still prepare these young people for assessment, they would also have to prepare these young people to manage themselves. In fact the latter would be the key to a young person's success. If students were encouraged to see Achievement Standards as micro-credentials and curate these strategically to piece together a certificate of THEIR choice, what might that do to how we deliver learning? Might we be less inclined to deliver learning in unnaturally discrete "subjects" all year long? I hope so.
On the flip side it would also make us have to evaluate the whole value proposition of school, particularly senior secondary. For some students school might be rendered redundant, why go to school when you can prep through Kahn Academy and then be assessed by NZQA? Bloody good question. What do we need to do differently to ensure the whole notion of attending this thing called school remains relevant and valued by young people if they no longer necessarily needed us to gain a NCEA Level Two or Three certificate? What an awesome question to tackle. What an opportunity to rethink what we do and why we do it! Would be interested to hear your thoughts.