Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rumba and The Test by Anya Kamenetz

Anya Kamentz's book, The Test, is really good. It's something that parents and teachers and anyone who cares about parents, students or teachers in the U.S. should read. She does a nice job of covering the background of testing as it is today and offers some good options for how to handle the current situation. But, she missed the Rumba option.

The Rumba option is my name for an assessment scenario that is possible today that she didn't write about. I came up with the name, Rumba, by including the first letters of the names of the four scenarios she did mention: Robot, Unicorn, Monkey, Butterfly and adding a fifth element - Accessibility. I like calling the scenario a name usually associated with a dance which is what assessment of learning is like a lot of the time. The Rumba is also a human activity, not a thing or real or imagined animal. And, it can be fun which is what teaching and learning can be when done well.

It's important to focus on the addition of Accessibility which is where more education eyes need to be focused. Education and assessment both need to be more accessible for more students, and using open education resources housed in or delivered with a learning management system that includes all of the reporting features to satisfy all of the people that need to know is the best option for making education and assessment accessible.  Game builders aren't so likely to make their games as accessible as they need to be, and I just don't trust them to be the best stewards of our children's education records. Games will likely be available in English and Spanish and probably Chinese, but will they work with screen readers, and will they be capable of being translated on the fly into all of the languages a good LMS can handle?

The LMS model I'm envisioning includes portfolios - that's been included in my scenario for a few years. It includes project based learning, maker stuff, and authentic teacher created formative assessments. It can include standardized tests, but I don't think they'll be necessary, and I'd be more than happy if they weren't included. The investment required to make this model work will primarily be investment in teacher and administrator training because there are good proven open source options readily available. I'd rather my tax dollars go to build the capacity of the teachers in my community than into the coffers of the makers of standardized tests. So, Let's Rumba !

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