Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Are Standards an Outdated Approach?

The standrd movement and the Common Core that emerged from it have been with us for so long that we only ask what standards and not whether we should have content standards at all. I am ambivalent about standards. In theory I understand the intent but in practice it often gets diminished to a set of alessons and assessents. The main problem is that a series of standards takes a few years to develop perhaps with the rapid development of new content area, new technologies, and new insights the kind of standards we have now are simply outdated by the time they find the way into classrooms.

I suggest that we need a much more flexible framework of standards perhaps more like the new science standards a framework of principles instead of atomized skills. Yes it'll be harder to show that students reach standards but then again all learning that is worth it is hard to measure. 

Many voices call for mastery learning. I want to challenge that as well. Mastery is not enough, with many skills fluency is the next step. The point is that fluid performance "in the zone" or Flow is the key for expertise. Our goal should be not just for students that can do it, but for ones that can do it efficiently. It is a complex demand especially when discussing 21st century skills that can be demonstrated in so many alternative ways.

I am not calling for abolishing standards but I am calling for continuing to challenge our assumptions and consider our alternatives.

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