Slowing Down Change

Change, real systemic change, in public education. When we’ve had BIG CHANGE, we’ve pushed back and said that it didn’t work because of rushed implementation or uneven implementation or a failure to prepare adequately or a lack of resources. Maybe it’s because I’m in the last decade of my career, but I’m becoming impatient. I want to make a significant difference in the lives of our students. I want their learning experiences to be tailored to who they are as learners not who we were when I attended school in the seventies.

It takes FOREVER for something to change in public education. I worry that we are now slowing down the implementation of any NYS initiative because of the push back of the past five years.  And I worry that we’re not really “preparing” for these changes. From my perspective it just seems to mean being given more time before we “have to do something”.  Are we preparing or putting off?

Take computer based testing as an example.

The NYS Education Department has been preparing us for computer based assessments for a couple of years now. And districts are looking at piloting “computer based” assessments between now and 2020; some have started already. Why the slow roll out? To allow districts to prepare for it.

When we talk about computer based assessments in our district, we’re talking about using technology to support learning through adaptive testing and diagnostic instruction that’s tailored for every child’s learning path. A significant tool for teachers to better understand individual students. It’s like using the coolest apps on your smart phone to do things better, faster, more efficiently, more personalized.

When the state is talking about computer based assessments for the NYS tests, they’re talking about replacing the paper/pencil assessments with something that’s on a computer. This won’t transform learning for a child, it will still be a summative check and it will be a tool, much as it is now, to see how we’re doing as a system as compared to other school systems. It’s like using your smart phone to make a phone call.

That ^^^^ is not enough. The argument is that we have to implement this substitution of paper/pencil tests so that we’re ready to use adaptive testing. Cripe. I’ll be dead by the time we get to adaptive testing and personalizing learning through diagnostic instruction for every child in this state.

We’ve been using adaptive testing and diagnostic instruction in the districts I’ve worked in since 2011. There are likely districts that have done so far longer than we have. It’s the right way to use assessments and technology, in formative ways throughout the school year to improve our instruction for every child. We have the ability to do things well, to target the expenditures in our school budgets in the right ways. We can use technology and curriculum (like Dreambox and iReady and PEG Writing and Zulama and check out the product reviews at EdSurge for hundreds more ) to redefine learning.

We are going to work hard to be sure that our students in Springville are using technology and assessments in ways that transform their learning. Not just as a substitute.

Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura developed the SAMR model over a decade ago.   And in NYS we’re just getting to the first level, substitution, in 2020.  That’s the best we can do?

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