The Fall '09 issue of Independent School magazine is about school mission. Pat Bassett, head of NAIS, established a committee of college and school heads that met over the past year to discuss transforming education from kindergarten through college in the context of the call for "21st century skills." They identify six important skills [educational outcomes] culled from a variety of sources:
character (self-discipline, empathy, integrity, resilience, courage)
creativity (entrepreneurial spirit)
real-world problem-solving (filtering, analysis, synthesis)
public speaking (communications)
The article then goes on to identify 10 "demonstrations of learning" that this group developed as a possible framework for a "lifelong portfolio" (k-16) providing assessment for the skills listed above. These demonstrations of learning are:
Conduct a fluent conversation in a foreign language about a piece of writing in that language.
Write a cogent and persuasive opinion piece on a matter of public importance.
Declaim with passion and from memory a passage that is meaningful - of one's own or from the culture's literature or history.
Produce or perform a work of art.
Construct and program a robot capable of performing a difficult physical task.
Using statistics, assess whether or not a statement by a public figure is demonstrably true.
Assess media coverage of a global event from various cultural/national perspectives.
Describe a breakthrough for a team on which you served and to which you contributed to overcoming a human-created obstacle so that the team could succeed in its task.
Demonstrate a commitment to creating a more sustainable future with means that are scalable.
As usual, Pat is giving us great food for thought. This list of demonstrations of learning is a great starting point to discuss the K-16 experience. What do we really want our graduates to know and be able to do? I also love the idea of students developing an eportfolio during their years in school that addresses these outcomes at each age-level's appropriate level of mastery. How would each of the 10 items on the list be demonstrated at each grade level? What products or "learning artifacts" do our students produce that could demonstrate mastery of these areas at an age-appropriate level.
Most of us are in K-12 schools, and it seems like our demonstrations of learning for 12th graders revolve around exams and AP/ACT tests. Certainly the various disciplines strive to meet the goals outlined above, but we don't measure it by asking students to demonstrate a portfolio of work. Instead, we ask them to take standardized tests and final exams.
Pat closes his article by asking what is happening at our schools. Reading this prompt to give feedback on the printed page of Independent School magazine left me hungering for an interactive medium, so I've reposted his list here, hoping to stimulate a few responses. What do you think of this list? Would you add or remove items? Does your school do anything like this, or have any Demonstrations of Learning that indicate success for graduates of your school's curriculum and mission? Do your students create portfolios over their K-16 schooling experience? How do your 4th graders demonstrate their learning? What is asked of them? 8th grade? 12th grade?