Re-imagining Education: Changing Prescriptive Teaching and Assessment Practices in our Schools

Jo Fothergill
Jo Fothergill

We are now 14 years into the 21st Century, yet we are living in an Education system that was built more than 150 years ago.

Yet, our children are growing up in a very different world that is interactive, collaborative, and globalized. It is a world where they can now look up new ideas, share them and receive feedback in real time.

Our current schemata of how Teaching and Assessment Practices should be structured needs to change.

We need to Re-Imagine how we facilitate learning and assess learners in the 21st Century!

Currently, in our Education systems, Standardized testing has evolved so much, that children are now being tested more, and at earlier ages than they ever have in history. Metrics involved in Standardized testing are demotivating and demoralizing for both students and Teachers, with Teachers feeling as though they are being tested themselves.

In fact, I believe that the ways that our school systems test and grade student intelligence is increasingly out of sync with the demands of our modern world.

The more we test and teach our students with prescribed and standardized forms of instruction and evaluation, the less they are able to learn, think for themselves, engage in creativity and take risks with regards to their learning. This also leads to larger achievement gaps between students who are haves and have-nots, which also leads to larger income gaps.

However, it appears that Governments and School systems will not get rid of Standardized tests anytime soon.

Therefore, it would be very beneficial if new kinds of standardized tests were constructed in modern ways, using today’s technologies to test in interactive ways that also allow for complexity and collaboration.

Using standardized assessments to promote Assessment for Learning and to guide facilitation of learning is essential in the 21st Century.  One way to do this is to embed Gaming and Adaptive learning opportunities into Standardized assessment strategies.  For instance, Gaming and Adaptive learning technologies are excellent conduits to allow for students to be tested in real time, and be automatically graduated to the level that the student is naturally ready for.

Further, students have opportunities to learn from mistakes in real time rather than having to write their answers at the end of the unit.

Students also learn best when they are able to set their own challenges, have opportunities to ask questions, set challenges, fail, and make changes. This also allows students to think outside the box, make meaningful choices, engage in inquiry, and become invested in their own learning.

Our students need to know that they are not failures if they are unable to engage in learning in traditional ways based on an Education system that was built over 100 years ago. In this day in age, now more than ever, students have access to opportunities that enable them to be inspired, critical thinkers, re-create their worlds.

In fact, I propose that our schools, school systems, and testing practices warrant a major overhaul, for positive and meaningful change.

What are your ideas and strategies for creating positive and meaningful change in our School Systems?

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



4 responses to “Re-imagining Education: Changing Prescriptive Teaching and Assessment Practices in our Schools”

  1. Re-imagining Education: Changing Prescriptive Teaching and Assessment Practices in our Schools | Big Ideas in Education Avatar

    […] Re-imagining Education: Changing Prescriptive Teaching and Assessment Practices in our Schools. […]


  2. It is not about Technology. It is about Pedagogy. | Big Ideas in Education Avatar

    […] structures that bind us to when, why, what, and how we should all learn. We have opportunities to re-imagine what learning can look like, feel like, and how it can impact ourselves and […]


  3. […] of other questions including, what is curriculum? All of these questions will have an impact on the assessment processes. Can we moderate vastly different sources of assessment data and still come to a […]


  4. […] in my experience, assessment strategies are not ‘stand-alone’ entities that we bestow upon our students to obtain grades. Likewise, […]


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