I am sitting in a workshop in Guangzhou called the “Standards-Based Assessment Summit” because I work in a school that has taken on something called AERO Standards, an international form of the Common Core Standards.
Something I am working through in my mind at the moment is why standards have to be tied to ages and grade levels. Do we, in reality, all really grow (in any sense of the word) at the same pace? Do we even want to aspire to that? If we relate this to real life, which we must surely be in the habit of doing, there are many questions that provoke further thinking about this:
Did we all learn to ride a bike or swim at the same age?
Did we all learn how to change a light bulb or use a screwdriver at the same age?
Did we all learn how to fry an egg or manage our accounts at the same age?
Did we all learn how to maintain positive relationships at the same age?
I think I can safely say we did not, and there are many reasons for this – context, readiness and so on. Imagine if, in real life, everyone was expected to learn everything at the same age. Imagine if I had to learn to fry an egg at age 12 but really struggled… then, at 13 I was supposed to move on to poaching eggs. But, of course, I hadn’t managed to fry an egg yet. Have I missed my chance… or is egg-frying still on my agenda? Would it remain on my agenda until I master it, irrelevant of my age? Will I get the support I need so I can develop my egg frying techniques? Will I be made to feel like a failure because I can’t fry an egg?
If a student doesn’t meet a particular standard for Grade 2 during her time in Grade 2, does that standard still apply to her when she is in Grade 3? Or, is she now operating in a domain that has drifted beyond her reach? Or, and I hesitate here…………. does no child get left behind?
I am trying to figure out why the recent moves away from continuum-thinking. Are standards still a continuum if they are mapped to grade levels? Are continuums still standards if they are not mapped to grade levels?