Come this June, high schools all over the state I work in (Virginia) will be graduating 2nd batch of students who have gone through their entire educational career in the age of standardized testing. Now, with the help of online testing, a new shift has begun to take place. The tests are no longer designed to see how well our students are able to answer questions. Now, students are having to use skills which include critical thinking, problem solving, and drawing from past experiences to solve complex equations on these tests. To top it all off, student growth is about to play a huge role in the evaluation process for all educators.
This shift brings up a couple of questions for me. First: how are we preparing teachers to shift their methods to help ensure our students are equipped with the skills and knowledge to think and work at this higher level. Second: are the kids who have regular access to technology at an advantage over those who are not? I know that when I talk with my own teachers, they are frustrated because they feel they are not providing their students with the necessary technology to facilitate the mastering of these skills. I'm concerned because they may be right. How can they? Our four computer labs have been booked since winter break solely for benchmarks, simulations, pilot studies, and assessments.
These are not questions that can be answered in a few paragraphs; but it is food for thought. Things are about to change significantly in education; and I'm afriad a lot of mistakes are going to be made before a solid model exists which allows students from all backgrounds to achieve their highest potential.