Can States Assess Creativity?
by Richard Kassissieh
A student gazes at a mystery solution. Its contents are unknown. The student reaches into her toolkit, a set of known solutions, and one by one, combines them with a small portion of the mystery solution. One test changes the color to bright yellow. Another produces a milky, solid substance. Gradually, the student pieces together the clues that allow her to identify the unknown solution.
This qualitative analysis laboratory required the student to recall properties of different solutions, understand reaction processes, and synthesize the results of different experimental tests while under pressure. To practice, the student had worked together with classmates to identify a series of mystery solutions and shared their findings with their classmates.
Did this performance assessment play out in the classroom of an innovative, 21st-century educator? No, the qualitative analysis laboratory has been part of British national chemistry examinations for decades.
It is tempting to rail against high-stakes state tests in the United States. They emphasize basic skills and fact recall, pressuring school districts to strip programs to the basics and eliminate or reduce "non-core" subjects such as art and history. For example, many school districts "double dose" language arts and mathematics classes in order to improve students' performances on state tests (see this EdWeek article).
Are large-scale, standardized assessments bound to forever measure a narrow range of skills and knowledge?
Summative work has to insist on standards of uniformity and reliability in collection and recording of data, which are not needed in formative work, and which inhibit the freedom and attention to individual needs that formative work requires.
External tests which are economical are bound to only take a short time. Therefore, their reliability and validity are bound to be severely constrained: they can only use a limited range of methods and must be limited in respect to their sampling of relevant domains.
Paul Black, Testing: Friend or Foe?
On a brighter note, some national assessments include hands-on performance assessments. Not only do we have the IGCSE national examination described above, but the U.S. Advanced Placement examinations test higher-order thinking skills through essays in many subjects and the submission of a portfolio of work in art.
The International Baccalaureate program, originally from Switzerland and growing in popularity in the U.S., includes summative assessments that measure creative problem solving, analysis and presentation of information, and argumentation (IB Diploma Programme Assessment Philosophy).
The U.S. college admission process represents another effort to assess higher-order thinking skills fairly across a broad pool of candidates. Most selective colleges use multiple measures to evaluate students: essays, standardized test scores, lists of accomplishments, interviews, the reputation of one's high school, and letters of recommendation.
It may well be possible to develop standardized assessments that measure 21st century skills. Cost is the main obstacle. How much would it cost to systematically test problem-solving, collaboration, and presentation skills across all U.S. schools?
Though we may see inconsistencies between standardized assessments and 21st century skills, we can advocate for an increased role of performance assessment and the assessment of higher-order thinking skills in these high-stakes tests.
Photo credit: judybaxter on Flickr
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.
- It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
- Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.