What, really, do we mean by “student achievement?” It’s one of those many terms in education that is hard to pin down, one that defies agreement from school to school, community to community. But most often, students who “achieve” at high levels are those who do well on the test. And that’s been the focus in schools now for pretty much as long as I can remember, at least. We wanted to send kids out into the world who knew a lot of stuff, who had mastered the curriculum. We wanted something easy to compare one year to the next so we could chart “progress.”
That’s not going to work any longer. As Tony Wagner says, “It’s not what you know; it’s what you can do with what you know.” And increasingly, it’s becoming apparent that we are entering an era of performance as opposed to an era of achievement. It’s not about grades and data as much as it is about real world problem solving and creating, making things that have an authentic purpose in the world.
That means missions instead of majors. It means portfolios instead of report cards. It means working in public instead of working behind the classroom curtain.
In the modern networked world, what our students “achieve” better be more than a number.
(Image credit: Tulane Public Relations)