19 Comments

  1. Chris

    I always find it ironic that people criticize the factory model of school (no evidence for it), then those same people will look at large corporations to improve education.

  2. It depends. If opportunities are available for creative endeavors students will rise to the occasion. In spite of? I believe in many children there has to be an opportunity presented or available, a passion, a need/purpose, and that is where a teacher or parent comes to provide possibilities and opportunities for creativity.

  3. Desiree Finestone

    2 quotes on ’emotional intelligence’ that have inspired me:
    • The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and influence their actions. -John Hancock

    • In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive, and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding. -Daniel

    I believe that students can learn and ‘be taught’ emotional intelligence skills through a range of real life engaging interactions, sharing messages in movies, picture books, current events, discussions etc…

  4. Desiree Finestone

    Apologies – Name missing on quote from previous comment.
    In a high-IQ job pool, soft skills like discipline, drive, and empathy mark those who emerge as outstanding. – Daniel Goleman

  5. Lisa

    Unfortunately the majority of people believe that the many years spent in school are learning about the major subjects and, perhaps some minor ones. In reality, school is about life experiences such as learning how to form relationships, how to invite others into groups and how to manage the many avenues of learning. Not everyone fits into the same size box, but we are forced to put them in the same box!

  6. Heidi Siwak

    Your quote actually indicates that high test scores do matter. Only 14 percent of employees at Google do not have post secondary education, this indicates that something beyond an ability to engage on a personal level with others is needed for the other 86%. I was recently on tour of a new facility for a globally-renowned consultancy to view their workplace design. The facility was beautiful and reflected a collaborative, technology-enhanced stance – it was designed to attract and keep the best applicants. Marks mattered in the hiring. They were interested in securing the top graduates.
    The future work force will be made up of 2 groups:
    1 low-skilled and poorly paid, where little education is needed.
    2. Highly skilled and highly paid where expertise is essential.
    The quote states that “high scores are not needed unless you are an entry level grad”. This indicates that entry level graduates do need high scores for the better jobs. Students will need a certain level of performance to gain entry into the STEM subjects that are so in demand. A good personality might land an inexperienced and poorly educated person a low-level management job – it will not permit entry into fields such as chemical engineering, artificial intelligence, or nanotechnology or the many other emergent fields. It is disingenuous to suggest to parents and students that they will not be a significant factor in establishing their education paths and career.

    • Chris

      Well said and those 14% could very likely friends/family members of already Google employees. Or those 14% could be finishing their degree.

    • You are equating test scores with expertise. Are you saying that a person cannot develop expertise in an academic area if they aren’t also “expert” test takers? IF the tests were valid–IF they measured learning rather than the ability to memorize largely context free information–IF they weren’t skewed toward people with specific types of intelligence, then there might be some correlation to the expertise needed in the world of work. None of those statements is true of today’s “standardized” tests, which assume that there is a “standard” person around which to build a curve.

      One example: A young man who scored an 11 on his ACT in math and a 17 composite. And had the audacity to want to become an engineer! Maybe he was deluded by the fact that he had built his own computer at the age of 16–just because he was interested. After majoring in computer science at a well-known state university, he worked on a team that developed the radar on the Aegis battle ships. Decades later, he works for what is arguably the world’s largest chip maker. His job? To do everything possible to make their chips fail before they are released to the public! Apparently, somewhere along the line, he developed the necessary “expertise,” even though he was a lousy test taker! Why? Because he was more interested in what he could DO with what he was learning than on memorizing all the “facts” he needed for the test. And oh, by the way, he never did get his BA…he was one course shy of the requirements–missing a course in English Lit!

      A single anecdote? Hardly. These are the students we write off because of the vaunted test scores. What a waste.

      • Chris

        Tests measure learning. What you call memorization is actually learning, committing knowledge to long term memory.

  7. Heidi Siwak

    I am not familiar with the standardized testing as that is not an approach to education we take in my country. In my province, we have a few standards-based tests at 3 points over a student’s career as a pulse of the system. I am not equating test taking with expertise, I am saying that performance results matter in many contexts – from who gets accepted into post secondary to who gets hired and that cannot be ignored. The economic shift to a highly skilled workforce means that STEM-type graduates may have better options and that acceptance into programs are marks dependent, and that many employers hire what they deem to be the ‘best’ graduates and often that is performance-based. Having 2 kids who’ve gone through undergraduate degrees with the competition for places, and graduate school with the competition for places, it is naive to suggest to parents and students that performance indicators such as marks and test scores are inconsequential.

    • Heidi Siwak

      I would also add from an equity point of view that not all students have the opportunity to work independently to develop a passion-based interest. It is incumbent upon education to foster interests and create conditions where interests can be developed. Part of that support should entail making students aware of the work that’s needed to achieve goals – which includes, particularly in grades 11 and 12 and then again in 3rd and 4th year to secure the performance indicators needed (marks/exam results) that open the door to the next step.

      • Heidi-I absolutely agree that “performance” indicators are important, but not that “test scores and grade.marks” are the most comprehensive and equitable indicators of performance. The word assessment means “the evaluation or estimation of the nature, quality, or ability of someone or something.” Further, the word evaluation is defined as the “making of a judgment about the amount, number, or value of something”. There is nothing in the definition of assessment that requires measurement or the collection of quantitative data.

        Many highly successful schools use performance assessments tailored to the individual rather than test scores. Here’s an article that explains what “authentic” assessment might look like.
        http://learninginmind.com/authentic-assessment.php

        • Heidi Siwak

          Interesting article. Assessment for and as learning has been Ontario’s policy since 2010 when Growing Success was released. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/growSuccess.pdf I am versed in co-constructing success criteria, student led assessment, demonstrations of learning etc. In the policy there is no requirement to administer tests and at the high school level if one chooses to administer a test or exam it cannot be worth more than 30% of a final mark. Policy release and policy implementation, however, are 2 separate things. The reality of grade 11 and 12 students looking to post secondary kicks in and schooling becomes all about the marks and every mark counts. Tests and exams still happen. That has not disappeared. I’ve witnessed that as a parent and educator. It’s a harsh reality and the stress level of grade 12 students is high. Students compete for places at their preferred institutions. The example from the international consultancy that I mentioned earlier – the exact wording was, “We were able to hire all the A students from the graduating class from ***** university. My earlier point was that it is a disservice to students, parents, and educators to suggest that test scores could be diminished as a significant factor when they are still the dominant variable for post secondary education and career paths.

          • Heidi Siwak

            I will rephrase that to… when they and/or marks are still the dominant variable …

  8. Heidi–I certainly understand what you’re saying. It’s interesting that some companies remain so “unenlightened” because companies such as Google and Microsoft have long recognized that grades at a “prestigious university” have little correlation to what an employee actually accomplishes. The good news is that, in the U.S., over 950 colleges and universities have dropped the ACT/SAT as the primary guide to admissions. See http://college.usatoday.com/2016/07/18/columbia-and-barnard-are-the-latest-schools-to-drop-sat-and-act-requirements/ and http://fairtest.org/schools-do-not-use-sat-or-act-scores-admitting-substantial-numbers-students-bachelor-degree-programs for example.

    When I visited learner-centered schools around the U.S. (not public schools so they are not required to give standardized tests) I found that they often give the tests to their students “for fun.” The mission of these schools is to educate the “whole child” rather than focusing only on the mental domain. And they aren’t held to a “one size fits all” curriculum. And yet these students typically score one or two GRADE LEVELS higher than their public school counterparts. I would love to see parents and educators (as well as those in business) visit these schools and interact with those students. They are so much more self-confident, responsible, and comfortable interacting with adults than many of those who have gone through the grades and testing approach in public schools in the U.S. There seems to be a perception that broadening the scope of learning and returning the responsibility of learning to the learner will reduce academic achievement–yet the opposite is frequently true. My question is what more can we do to expose the public to the research so that test scores and grades are no longer the “dominant variable.” I highly recommend Todd Rose’s book The End of Average for a more in-depth scientific explanation about why our current paradigm fails to produce the kinds of learners we want. Rose not only traces the flawed history of our current paradigm, but discusses various large companies that have recognized the limitations of using grades and scores to identify talent. Obviously, the consultancy you mentioned hasn’t yet caught up with that idea. It will be interesting to see if, by picking the “cream of the crop,” they get what they expect from those students.

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