The Wicked Problem: Keeping Education Relevant through Standardized Test Reform

Have you ever had a wicked problem? You know, a problem so large and complex that it is virtually unsolvable?

Education has many wicked problems and our last task for MAETy1 was to come up with the “best bad option” for solving a wicked problem of education.

The wicked problem we chose to try (and fail) to solve is: how to keep education relevant, when relevancy is constantly changing. We reached out to our PLNs and asked for some feedback on this issue. We got one response that really stuck with us about critical thinking, logical reasoning and creative problem solving will never be irrelevant to education.

Thus began our wicked problem.

After much debate, discussion, and frustration we ultimately decided that if we wanted students to have these skills – critical thinking, logical reasoning and creative problem solving – when they enter the workforce, our schools needed to step up and ensure students had the opportunity to learn them. Unfortunately, students typically only learn the standards that are tested on the end of the year standardized tests because those are the gatekeepers of student diplomas, teacher evaluations and school report cards.

Our solution? Attack the assessment!

We decided that this type of change would have to be a top down change – starting at the policy level. If we want students to be creative thinkers and problem solvers, and if we want teachers to teach them these skills, then the state needs to assess these skills in an authentic way.

Below is the link to the first draft of our proposal for overhauling the current standardized testing system. What we have found that is that standardized tests are bad – across the board. We looked at the standards being assessed through these tests, and those are great, but the current means of assessment are not doing our students any good in developing them into positive contributors to society.

We look forward to continuing research and development on this project in the hopes of enacting real change some day. We cannot afford to let testing be a disservice to our students, because it ultimately leads to a disservice to ourselves and a disservice to our society.

Please review the first draft of our proposal and contact us with any feedback you may have. This proposal is a work in progress and will continue being refined and developed into something more formal that can be passed off to stakeholders in educational policy.



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