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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Creating Problems Solvers Who Need Answer Choices


The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things,
not simply of repeating what other generations have done
- men who are creative, inventive and discoverers
- Jean Piaget

The accountability movement has created a generation of problem solvers who rely on the fact that they will have multiple choices.  This is the time of year where many states begin giving their standardized assessments. I thought I’d provide some thoughts about what I believe and practice as a leader in regards to standardized testing.
I believe that….
  • students should be creators of content not consumers of bubble sheets
  • true learning and discovery are open-ended and have no answer choices
  • students that are taught to think and problem solve without answer choices can easily navigate a multiple-choice test
  • putting a multiple choice test on a computer does not make it more engaging or effective
  • time spent on teaching test-taking strategies would be better spent on teaching a love of reading
  • students are passionate about saving the world not circling the best answer
  • performance based assessments provide a more authentic form of assessment
  • students should get multiple opportunities to demonstrate knowledge of a concept
  • no teacher got into this profession for the purpose of teaching students how to bubble in answers
  • the leader has a responsibility to go beyond what a multiple choice assessment can measure
These are just a few of my beliefs in regards to the current accountability movement.  What do you think?  What would you add and/or delete?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Deliberate Excellence

“Excellence is never an accident; 

it is always the result of high intention, 

sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; 

it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”

- William A. Foster



This quote comes alive for me every time I work with, coach, and have conversations with leaders.  The most successful initiatives have these key ingredients in them.  Likewise many disastrous decisions are missing one or more of these components.

Often people do what they have always done or even what is easy to do.  Instead the focus should always be on "Doing the Next Right Thing" using the quote above as a guide.

What if everyone subscribed to this definition of excellence?  What if everyone in your organization did this? How would this change your practices or the practices of your organization?  Remember that it all begins with you and your intent...