Thursday, November 12, 2020

CommonWealth Magazine: "How about a civics project instead of another MCAS test?"

From CommonWealth Magazine we share an article of interest for Franklin:

"At the same time, our Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, with support from Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, sought to add a history-focused MCAS test to the current series of tests focused on science, English Language Arts, and math. The intent is admirable. In a testing and accountability-focused educational climate, many school and district leaders, particularly in communities predominantly serving lower-income students and students of color, have given limited attention to history and social studies in favor of tested subjects. Making history/social studies a tested subject might address that structural inequity.

But we think there may a better solution. Instead of more standardized testing, we propose each student complete a civics education project (which is already required of all students in accordance with the 2018 law) as a demonstration of knowledge and skill equivalent to a passing score on the MCAS.

The civics project could:

  • Be long-term, conducted over the course of perhaps a term, a semester, or an entire school year. In the workplace and in college, extended individual and collaborative projects are commonplace; this is excellent preparation for real-world expectations.
  • Align with the ideals of “deeper learning” articulated by scholars Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine in their book, In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School. A well-developed civics project includes a focus on literacy (particularly important given our state’s large and growing multilingual population), real-world relevance (providing motivation for students to shape their communities through civic action), and student empowerment (students gain knowledge and skills that will enable them to be informed, active citizens).
  • Provide students choice, allowing them to focus on a topic of personal passion, or for a small group to pursue a shared interest collaboratively."
Continue reading the article online

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