This SXSWedu session’s description sums up the matter: “What if job performance was measured by a year-end test aiming to boil all of our work down to a single score? As meaningless as that would be, that’s how our education system works, with the majority of instruction and student evaluation driven toward a single, year-end test.”
LEGO Education’s Stephan Turnipseed proclaims that employers want creativity, which is the number-one thing they are not getting. “We need to drive creativity.” The task ahead “is not about learning creativity, but about unlearning it.” Creative workers are desired in America, and if they cannot be cultivated here, Turnipseed warns, they will be found elsewhere.
Above all, we must “free the teachers to teach, free the students to learn, [and] free the system to operate in an effective way.”
Turnipseed is concerned with high-stakes testing. “Children are told every day in our classrooms that there’s only one right answer.” However, he is careful not to dismiss standardized tests entirely. “We need the school setting to more closely resemble how we actually lead our people,” urges Turnipseed in an appeal for rethinking our outdated educational model.
Another panelist, Linda Darling-Hammond of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, boldly asserts that “[w]e are out-of-step with the rest of the world.”
In her mind the issue of equity requires acute attention. “In the United States… we have greater rates of child poverty, more segregation which has been growing,” she argues. She believes that “we spend less money on kids in low-wealth districts… [and] we have an unequal distribution of educators and curriculum.”
As for Common Core state standards, Darling-Hammond says they “are adding performance tasks and open-ended items” and “more higher-order thinking skills.” She claims that Hong Kong and Singapore have adopted similar learning benchmarks yet argues “We have too much mandated from the federal and in some cases the state levels.” States and local communities, Darling-Hammond professed, ought to create their own curriculums.