A. B. C. D. Choosing between these four letters has brought much trepidation to a great number of students over many years. Results of such choices have seemed so powerful and defining so…final. In fact they have determined paths for numerous students and schools alike. From AYP to AP, SAT & ACT, MCAT & LSAT, high stakes testing has indeed some HIGH Stakes to it. Yet, now we stand at a crossroads, knowing that we can’t put all our focus on one score from one day to represent an entire year of growth or an entire person’s intelligence. We know that we need unique ways to assess, that we need to provide balanced, on-going feedback and take some pressure off where high stakes has dug in its weighty heels.
We know that we need unique ways to assess,that we need to provide balanced, on-going feedback and take some pressure off where high stakes has dug in its weighty heels.
The talk in education is continuing to shift and we hear a strengthening voice saying things like: it’s no longer just about what you know but what you do with what you know. Tony Wagner, at the recent Educational iPad Summit, asserted that assessment is “badly broken” and went on to describe highly effective teachers who provided opportunities for students to reflect on learning often (formative assessment anyone?) instead of penalizing failure which only instills profound risk aversion.1 Seth Godin would agree as he outlines our preparation in schools as a path to become factory cogs and good little consumers, afraid to be wrong or stand out or go against the grain–all the exact opposite of what it takes to be an indispensable innovator or Linchpin as he refers to it.2 Sir Ken Robinson and other leading educational thinkers and speakers inspire us to advocate for creativity and change in education, listening and looking and seeking out ways to help students find their niche, their passion, their Element as Robinson refers to it.3
So, it wasn’t by chance we set out to create a tool that would not only allow teachers to provide meaningful opportunities for students to reflect on their learning often, but also to provide innovative yet simple ways to demonstrate their thinking and learning.
1. Wanger, Tony. (2012, November). Creating Innovators. Keynote at the Educational iPad Summit, Harvard University, Boston, MA.
2. Godin, Seth. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2011.
3. Robinson, Ken. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. New York: Penguin Group USA, 2009.