Industry Modeled Assessments for Authentic Learning

Image captured from the ICLE Website.
Image captured from the ICLE Website.

In these austere times, schools are feeling the effect of the slowing or stoppage of public funds. Even though there is a temporary kink in the supply chain, there is a still a societal expectation that schools must be willing to do more with less in preparing students for the advanced career skills required in the 21st century.

One direction that many schools take to implement new State standards, which are meant to increase rigor, is to purchase pre-packaged curriculum materials from commercial vendors. So often, it is expensive to purchase new pre-packaged programs/workbooks that, when used in isolation of authentic assessment practices, make learning artificial by removing it from direct applications with the real world. These “canned curriculae” promote a one-size-fits all approach that can devalue the professionalism of the teaching staff. It is not hard to see the popularity of this approach given the prevailing metaphor that public schools are tiny businesses that manufacture human capital. By creating a uniform assembly line, the raw materials all undergo a linear process of change that is easy to implement and control.

In an effort to transform educational institutions to better serve the students and faculty, it is time to adopt a new metaphor for the learning process. Schools should be viewed as a Guild of Skilled Craftspeople that serve unique geographical communities. One needs only to look at the economic landscape of of the community it serves for the answers to relevant curricular assessment. Many district’s include phrases about creating partnerships with the community in their mission statements, but I challenge districts to go deeper when forming these community relations. Invite local business, industry, and social services to participate in the assessment development process.

Teachers are professionals in the education of children and experts in their chosen academic discipline. It is important to let them have a voice in creating the learning plans of their classroom. In an effort to create small works of curricular crafts, they must be given the right inspiration and time to collaborate with the right people. Local commerce has always relied on schools to educate and train the next generation of workers. By inviting industry professionals to the table when educators are creating authentic assessments, the school and community are truly working together for the educational benefit of the young learners. It is important for both institutions to claim sponsorship for the authentic assessment materials by placing their respective logos on the document. Sharing ownership of the learning outcomes may result in industry providing “real world” materials and tools for students to use in the classroom. Cash-strapped districts can know use their new assessments and learning materials to trigger inspiration at the classroom level.

When schools can develop authentic assessments that mirror the spirit of the local cultural, learning will reach a level of relevancy that allows students to develop strong community relationships while achieving highly rigorous academic goals.

Yours in Education,

Dr. Gregg McGough, CRI Blogger/CRI Podcaster