This post is by Mike Hynes, Superintendent of Port Washington School District on Long Island. His previous post on this site, After the Pandemic: Our Children Deserve an Education Revolution, garnered 199,000 page views -- a record for this blog.
The Regents Exam and High School Diploma: It’s Time to Evolve into the 21st Century
“Skills and competencies unheard of 50 years ago now are crucial, while some traditional requirements have lost relevance. Not every student must be pointed toward a four-year liberal arts education, if a direct job path suits them better. But they all must have basic skills to function in this more complex world.” I truly feel we must look to the alternative methods some public and non-traditional school systems evaluate both teaching and learning. There are many viable ways for students to express proficiency and mastery in an area of study. The shift happens when the conversation reduces the importance of one data point at the end of the year to embracing the purpose and meaning of a students’ growth over time.
I ask adults, when was the last time you took a multiple choice test or were assessed at work by the administration of a multiple choice test? To think we have assessed the children in New York the same way since Lincoln was in the White House is heartbreaking. The fact the New York State Education Department brought together a Blue Ribbon Commission to make potential changes to graduation requirements gives me hope. Let’s become familiar with some of the innovative schools around the world who embrace authentic learning and assessment. Students showcase their deep understanding by project and problem based assessments and performance minded tasks.
I think we can all agree, that is how we navigate in the real world. It’s time we move New York State away from the 19th century and into the 21st. We can do so by developing alternative assessments that don’t bring down standards, but make them higher than what we already have. Maybe…just maybe, this is something we can all agree on in a world that celebrates divisiveness and extremes.