Week 9: Should we broaden the definition of student achievement?
Citizens League has been considering for some time whether to engage citizens in developing strategies that would broaden the definition of student achievement. Your work in this project will have a significant impact on our decision, and on how we would set up the effort. After reading through your discussions, I want to thank you very much for your thinking and for your openness to growth and learning throughout the process.
Ted Kolderie, former Executive Director of Citizens League and founder of Education|Evolving recently wrote this: "The traditional concept of performance focuses on math and English-language arts. Assessment does not search aggressively for knowledge or abilities beyond the academic that might be learned outside formal school. It focuses on what can be quantified. And—because the low levels of learning now press educators so hard to 'close the learning gap'—it emphasizes ‘proficiency’. It seems less interested in individual performance: The term 'all students' appears a lot; the standards are 'common' standards."
My questions for you follow:
- Should we, as a state and as a nation, broaden the definition of student achievement? Please explain why or why not.
- What are the most important things (three or more) for people who have never thought about the first question to consider? Why are these the most important?
- Are there points you learned or raised questions about here that you wish more people knew about?
- How, if at all, has your thinking changed over the course of your work on this project?
- What, if anything, have you learned about your own capacity for civic participation and active citizenship from being a part of this dialogue?
- If I may reframe the question: I can’t necessarily say that we should broaden the definition of achievement because there doesn’t seem to be a universal definition in the first place—it would be like trying to broaden the definition of love or beauty. But I do think, in deference to its highly subjective definition, we should stop using the word achievement as a euphemism for test scores and occasionally bachelor’s degrees. Viewing these things as synonymous is already harming our nation. It’s only a question of how long it will be before we are forced to make drastic changes.
- The idea of the opportunity gap as discussed in week 7. Everyone performing at the same level in school despite any one student’s background is certainly a nice idea. But it’s a bit like holding a race wherein some runners start a mile from the finish line and others start only a half mile from it, but all are expected to cross the finish line at the same time. I’m convinced that a lot of the world’s problems stem from the human tendency to view a thing independently of its context and this is no exception. The ripple effects of high-stakes testing are more harmful than the test itself, and are most harmful to those the test was (presumably) meant to help. Laws such as No Child Left Behind continue to exist because at first blush they seem idealistic and unequivocally correct. If we switched tomorrow to a system and culture of education based on mutual respect between educator and student, we would realize the true potential of all young people.
- The only one I haven’t already mentioned above is the manufactured nature of adolescence, as discussed in Week 3. Now that the initial shock of the question has worn off and I’ve had some time to turn it over in my head, I feel gypped. As things stand, I can’t say what kind of person I would be today if I hadn’t been raised (by my culture more than my parents) to feel stupid and cowed simply because of my age, but I would like to know. Ironically, young people will need older adults to bolster the idea if it is to gain widespread credibility; otherwise we would be too easily written off as “teenagers who think they know everything.” (Actions speak louder than words, I hear you cry. But most teenagers who act like adults are simply labeled “exceptional”.)
- While I never explicitly believed in the idea of “college for all”, I hadn’t explicitly questioned it either prior to this discussion. I am very much the stereotypical book-smart dweeb and probably couldn’t hack it anywhere but a four-year college, so the inherent value of any degree I might receive there has been a counterintuitive and occasionally disquieting question to ponder.
- I have always considered myself an apathetic and inarticulate person, and it took a lot of prodding from my teachers to apply for a lead commentator slot. I’ve discovered that I do, in fact, have ideas—enough to routinely exceed and ignore word limits— and I can (occasionally) convey them effectively. And even though I’ve been bemoaning the state of education for years now and claim to be tired of it, I can still get mad enough about questions of public policy and pedagogy that I’m all but banging my shoe on the table.
- I do believe that the United States should broaden the definition of student achievement, considering the fact that achievement can be measured upon many different mediums. Currently society measures achievement through standardized test scores and performance in school, however, as we have declared through our posts there is definitely more that a student is capable of that is considered “achievement.” Achievement is not necessarily in reference to what is learned in the classroom. Achievement can pertain to one’s success depending on their personal values. I believe achievement is defined as the level of “success” one reaches, at the point where they are happy.
- What people need to take into consideration in reference to the definition of achievement, is that there is more than what is learned in the classroom that a student is capable of, as I had previously stated. Also, for people who have not considered the first question, I believe it is important for them to be aware of the achievement gap and that it impacts EVERY student in the education system. Furthermore, it is important for people to understand that a student’s achievement can be affected as soon as they enter school. This is a concept that should be understood.
- I believe every citizen in the country deserves to hear out the issues pertaining to achievement and the education system. I wish people could understand that youth have the power to collaborate their ideas on a website like this and express their opinions on what is affecting each and every one of us. I am very proud to explain to people what I do on this website and answer to the question, “What exactly IS the achievement gap?”
- This project has definitely expanded my mind while I read everybody’s different inputs and opinions. After this project, I have definitely become more passionate about this topic and I am hoping to continue on with future projects pertaining to student achievement in the future.
- My capacity for civic engagement has definitely grown throughout this project. It has made me more aware as a citizen, the voice I have as youth in this country. Youth are important assets to our nation, it’s up to us to take the initiative to speak up and take action on issues that are important to us.
- No. I don't think we should broaden any sort of definition for achievment. I think that'll only create problems in trying to eliminate the issue of student's "underachieving" or something similar.
- To explain my answer to the first question, I think something important to consider is that the larger a definition of acheivement becomes the more difficult it will be to match that definition. Acheivement is not some physical object you can hold in your hand to represent itself, and thus define itself. Achievement is a concept, and defining a concept is like explaining a joke, it ruins the entire point of it or destroys the quality of that concept. I think it is most important for each of us individuals to have our own concept of achievement as (for many of us) it is one of the greatest feelings one can have and that feeling of acheivement leads one to want to continue achieving in larger fields and motivates that person onto success. If achivement is to be broadly defined at all it should only be the feeling of accomplishment to one's end.
- I feel in my life I have had plenty of disscussions concerning acheivement, true learning, and success. But like all topics of disscussion I think many people could benefit from beinig exposed to it.
- My thinking hasn't largely changed at all.
- I can't really think of an answer to this question now to be honest.
- I think we should broaden the definition of student achievement, but not in the case of standardized tests. Standardized tests are there to make sure students are learning the curriculum, and I think to discount those tests would make everything much more complicated. Millions of kids are in school, how do you take each one individually and measure their specific achievement? It is too large a task. Instead, I think we should make sure each kid knows their options, and if they know what they want to go into, make that more possible. So have technical degrees and training in high school, encourage other options as career paths, like technicians, etc. "Achievement" can be learning the basic skills we all must learn (basic math, english, etc) but "achievement" should NOT be a four year college degree. Obviously college grads don't make the world go round, and a college degree does not necessarily entail a happy, successful life. College is not the be all, end all, but rather an option for those who would like to pursue it.
- Important things to consider would be what I said earlier, college is not the only option, and not even the right option for many people. Schools should be less about making it into a national university and more about finding a career that's right for you, your family, your desires/aspirations, and the way you can contribute to society.
- Regarding the education gap, I really feel strongly that those affected by it are a product of culture, and not always of race, financial situation, etc. Race/ethnicity has nothing to do with intelligence, so these colored kids are not less smart, or less motivated, I just feel that maybe it's not as valued in their communities.
- I feel like a learned a lot about education that is not a four year degree, and how that is right for some people, and that has definitely changed my thinking.
- I learned that these are big things to consider, and that no wonder there are so many problems regarding education, it's such a confusing thing. You can't judge the people who devise the system too harshly, it seems there is never enough money, time, and energy to give all students a great education. I'm not saying it's possible, but I really admire the people who work in our schools, even if its not perfect. I also learned I really enjoy this, even if it makes me mad sometimes, maybe that's a good motivator? Hahah.
- Student achievement is when you get good grades and pass your classes. Broaden means when you take what you learned and use it in your community by sharing and contributing. So I would say we should keep it so the students that learn stuff can use it in the future and take action. Lots of the people also say that college can be the only way but no you have to try your hardest so you can get your highest achievement and make college the only way.
- I think the most important thing is first the students needs to learn the basics Math, English, Science etc. .. . . because people say college is the only way but first you have to learn and see if you have achieve it and then use it. Schools try to find the best career for you, your peers, and your friends and first you just have to see what you want first. Also every student has achieve even though they think they haven’t they have because through their life they have done something good and that success.
- I think it would be that every student can get a diploma doesn’t matter what student it is anybody can get it. I want to make it clear that everybody is equal Whites, Blacks, Mexicans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and others are equal. Some people think that one type of people are the smartest or the dumbest but not true everybody is equal and anybody can get a diploma and the same right. All around the world students are put down because of their skin color and they think they can’t achieve because they are different but anybody can get the right and achieve. They all have to work together to change and take action.
- My thinking has changed a lot because I thought only some people can achieve because how they show it. But I learned that everybody has achieved in something and it’s a great thing. Also there is still time for people to achieve and make a difference.
- My capacity for civic has grown a lot. I learned that everybody has different opinions and insights about student achievement. I learned a lot about the teens and how they have the right to change reality and they have to speak up and start talking about what they learned and know to the people outside of the box. It’s up to us to speak up and start working with the stuff that we care about and take it to action. This project has helped me a lot and made my understanding of student achievement the highest level I could take it, and share it with different people that care to and want to take it to action.
- This is a tough question to answer because it is so broad, but yes, we should broaden the definition of student achievement. The big problem I see is that not all students are the same. We aren't robots and can't all be judged on the same scale--we aren't all either 'good' or 'bad.' We aren't able to do exactly the same thing as the next person. The definition of student achievement should be more individualized.
- I think the most important thing for people to think about is to ask themselves if all people have the same exact ability. Do people all have the same exact ability in sports? No, so why would they have the same exact ability in terms of their learing? Also, another thing that people need to think about how one system is going to apply to everyone it effects, not just themselves. Although it would be great if we could all have our own special school just for us, that is never going to happen, so everyone needs to make some compromises. Finally, eveyone needs to cooperate a little better. When students, parents, teachers, and school officials can't get along and work together, nothing gets done. I often find myself frustrated with how teachers don't understand my schedule and what I need, and the same is true with parents and teachers sometimes.
- I wish more people knew that segregation was still present in schools. Everyone thinks that school segregation was abolished back in the 1950's with Brown v. Board of Education, and in the legal sense it was. But in the socioeeconomic sense, segregation is still a brutal reality in many school systems.
- I have always been one to share my opinions on topics I care about, and this discussion has been no different. Although it has been interesting to hear other people's opinions, mine has stayed the same.
- I think that is is really great to know that even as a teenager, my opinion matters, and my voice is actually heard. Too often young people are regarded as people who are unintelligent and aren't smart enough to make their own desicions, and I want to change that.
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