I’m a people-pleaser. I’ve been told that by many people (again already this morning, actually). When I was a student that translated into being a high-achieving teacher-pleaser. I was a good test taker. I took good notes, I studied, and I crammed right up until the paper tests were passed out. I got good grades, got into a good college, and have established a good career. However, I am not sure that those tests really showed the measure of my learning for that semester. I mean really, how much do I use the theorems I learned in geometry? Or, how relevant are the facts from the Spanish-American war in my daily life? Not much. I either learned the facts just long enough to take the test, or I regurgitated stuff that I already knew prior to the class. So that brings me to my point…are multiple-choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank exams worth the time they take to create and grade (for the teacher), and to study for and take (for the student)?
I love how the teachers at the Science and Leadership Academy in Philadelphia assess learning. Students produce capstone projects that demonstrate growth and learning from the year. They present and defend their creations. These students have taken learning and actively applied it to real life and real passions. They won’t quickly forget the lessons that led into these projects. This is authentic and relevant education at its best.