Tuesday, August 28, 2012

PARCC Assessment

If you have not done so I encourage you to read Mary Ann Reilly's post about the new release of PARCC assessment items.  Dr. Reilly concluded her post and questioning of PARCC claim about creating, "next generation, technology-based assessments" by sharing the following:

Doug Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011) define this type of thinking as mechanistic. They write:
Learning is treated as a series of steps to be mastered, as if students were being taught how to operate a machine or even, in some cases, as if the students themselves were machines being programmed to accomplish tasks. The ultimate endpoint of a mechanistic perspective is efficiency: The goal is to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. In this teaching-based approach, standardization is a reasonable way to do this, and testing is a reasonable way to measure the result. (Kindle Locations 336-338)
In contrast to this mechanistic view of learning Thomas and Brown offer a view to a new culture of learning, one that is absent from the PARCC prototypes:

learning should be viewed in terms of an environment—combined with the rich resources provided by the digital information network—where the context in which learning happens, the boundaries that define it, and the students, teachers, and information within it all coexist and shape each other in a mutually reinforcing way.  (Kindle Locations 329-332).
Instead of examining actual work that learners do for real purposes, we continue to subscribe to the belief that simulated assessment tasks are apt measures of knowing and doing. 

It's difficult to examine PARCC's model and the type of testing environment our kids will be subjected to and buy into the notion that this is vehicle will best judge college and career readiness skills. Dr. Reilly highlights the schism between managed/structured testing (mechanistic approach to learning) and the type of learning that Brown and Seely point out in a digitally connected world.  By narrowing the testing parameters and specifically denying learners access to peers and or personal learning networks, we are establishing a false environment.  I'm really curious as to how many professionals or college students work in complete isolation.  It would seem relevant to construct scenarios that encourage learners to work cooperatively and ethically leverage the powers of a digital information network.   As Dr. Reilly states, the measurement of growth should stem from authentic inquiry-driven endeavors as opposed to simulated assessment tasks.