Nancy Lang | September 7 | Cougar Chronicle

Dear New School Community,

Why is “student assessment” a priority for the 2020-21 school year? Many structures that still exist within our education system were created in the industrial age and have endured. Content delivery, knowledge retention, multiple-choice tests, Carnegie Unit Credits (seat time = credit), and an A-F grading system (now enhanced with grade inflation) are all hallmarks of an industrial age education system. At The New School, we value the whole child and lifelong learning. We teach critical thinking, communication skills, research skills, and emotional intelligence. Throughout the history of The New School, teachers and leaders have had many conversations about how we measure student learning and have implemented many assessment practices that are authentic to our mission and values. That said, we have work to do in this area, to improve consistency in the quality of feedback we provide to our learners.

Buckminster Fuller said “You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.” The challenges we are facing during this pandemic, with the balance of distance and on-campus learning, are presenting opportunities for us to examine, challenge, and adapt our approaches to assessment. We have an opportunity to consider a new model. It is time for us to commit to a comprehensive review of our assessment practices and determine if a new model is needed to best serve our learners and our community. Are we truly preparing our students to be the architects and leaders of our future? We believe we are, but without examining our systems of assessment, we cannot support that belief with meaningful and mission-aligned evidence. 

Watch for messages in the coming weeks about how you can engage with us in this conversation and process!

Nancy Lang

Head of School

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