Standards, Testing, and Pandemic Learning

Children and teachers across the country have been dealing with disrupted learning routines for the better part of year. Is it fair to judge their performance by the same standards and assessments we’ve used in the past? Tim Shanahan explores the issue in a recent blog post.

How do you think schools should approach standards and testing in the coming years? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stockvault/Geoffrey Whiteway

Is it Time to Reinvent Early Education?

In this opinion piece from The Atlantic, educator Erika Christakis argues that the U.S. should rethink its traditional approach to early education. School has remained largely unchanged over recent decades. Even during pandemic-era learning, the fundamentals are the same:

  • Students are grouped in classes by age.
  • Teachers lead short periods of instruction on standalone subjects.
  • Few opportunities exist for independent learning.
  • Most school time is spent indoors.
  • Schools overburden educators by also asking them to guard children’s mental and physical well-being.

The author cites several recent studies suggesting that this model is outdated and is even detrimental to young children.

What would a new model look like?

Christakis believes early education should be more engaging and less test-focused. More time would be spent outside, and mixed-age learning could be curiosity-driven. A shift in community responsibilities would also allow teachers to focus solely on teaching instead of having catchall “custodian functions.”

What would this change mean for publishers?

Publishers would likely need to overhaul existing resources in favor of:

  • Cross-curricular units that teachers can customize
  • Digital tools that support student inquiry and collaboration
  • Performance assessments or portfolio-building support instead of traditional tests

Are U.S. schools ready for this kind of change? What other resources would educators need?

Photo by CDC on Unsplash