Policy makers too often see kids as numbers. They pit schools against each other putting poorer neighborhoods in the position of appearing to fail. If we stopped thinking of kids as test scores and started looking at them as kids, I believe our focus would shift. Education isn't a competition, it is a collaborative effort for the collective good.
At an individual school level, we can set different types of goals. One would be a proficiency goal. However, AS ALL EDUCATORS KNOW, proficiency goals focus on a small number of students. This type of goal requires you to have laser like focus on students on the bubble. You don't worry, for the sake of the goal, on the very bottom students as they will not be proficient no matter what. You don't focus on the top because they will always be proficient. So the bubbles kids get the focus.
If you focus on a growth goal, you focus on all students. Every student should grow at least one year of growth. Any goal that has "every" in it sets you up for failure, however, you can see where growth goal can focus our attention on all students.
Both of these goals miss the mark. I think you can establish a growth goal but the focus must be on process. Why? You can control the process and thereby help kids.
- Use research based promising practices that increase student learning.
- Don't obsess about student results.
- Let results occur because you put into place the best possible practices.
- Ensure a feedback rich classroom.
- Establish clear learning goals.
- Establish expected teaching practices such as Gradual Release.
- Focus on giving students many opportunities to respond to both engage students and to give specific feedback.
- Determine what students need to know and create questions that get students to the goal.
- Establish levels of questions and the create question sequences that maximize your student engagement and depth of knowledge.
- Create grading practices that provide information about next steps for students.
- Set up time to allow teachers to collaborate and focus on student learning of essential learning goals.
- Establish quality assessments to determine student depth of knowledge.
When process becomes the focus, results follow. When we look at 8 year old children as kids and not as test scores, we can make a difference.