Pam Lowe: The goal of learning
Pam Lowe is the editor of the Clay County Courier in Arkansas, and she would like to remind us that the goal or learning is not test scores.
I believe every child should be treated like they are gifted and talented because, in their own way, they are. They each have their own talents and strengths. I’ve found that learners rise to expectations. I was often invited to schools to assess DOK levels during lessons either by principals or as a member of the state’s school accreditation team and what we learned is that well-meaning teachers would often set expectations too low. They were providing hard questions, but not difficult or challenging ones.
We can’t forget that the goal of an education is much bigger than acquiring a degree or scoring well on a test. It is to create autonomous learners who not only set about solving problems that are presented, but can actually find problems and solutions. That is each teacher’s primary goal; to foster students’ ability to think critically and tackle any assessment problem on their own and ultimately to be successful members of society.
Parents, the facts are that children need a good breakfast every morning in order to learn. Their brains need nutrition to learn properly. They need to be strong readers. They need cheerleaders at home and in the form of teachers and administrations visiting their classrooms every day to encourage them. Learning in itself is a reason for all the special things that happen during a testing window. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, when your child is 35-years old with a family of their own, no one will care about their elementary or high school test scores. Although teachers don’t relish the pressure and the testing system, they deal with the reality of the testing situation the best they can.
The truth is that learning is held hostage in classrooms across the United States, while test preparation and testing is occurring. We all want our learners to be college or career-ready so they have the skills and knowledge to choose their path and can be successful in their chosen field. Educators know the pendulum swings back and forth on initiatives, but learning is learning. It hasn’t changed over time. We should stay the course and do what we know concerning best learning practices. The human brain and how it learns, developmentally appropriate stages and challenging classroom work should be the daily focus in every school room. If this occurs throughout three-quarters of the year, there is no need for heavy test preparation and stress. Somewhere along the way we’ve gotten sideways of what the goal of learning is. I can tell you this, the goal of learning is not a test score.