Seth Godin says in his blog that “we keep coming up with new things to measure (like processor speed, heat output, column inches) but it’s pretty rare that those measurements are actually a proxy for the impact or quality we care about. It takes a lot of guts to stop measuring things that are measurable, and even more guts to create things that don’t measure well by conventional means.”
I agree with Seth in that we should measure impact and quality. Perhaps it does take guts, as he suggests, to stop measuring things just because they are measurable. Or, perhaps it just takes common sense and commitment to measure things that we say are important. Skills such as critical thinking and creativity are important. The primary measures being used by school systems to assess these are traditional tests and assignments that receive a grade. Often times the criteria used to assess students are based on effort, organization, neatness, and on time completion. Yet none of these are used to describe a person who is creative or a critical thinker. Some school systems in Iowa are toying with Competency Based Education (CBE) and are trying to delineate competencies that describe knowledge, skills, and dispositions such as critical thinking and creativity that students should be able to demonstrate. These school systems will need methods for measuring the competencies beyond the traditional methods currently used. I believe this will take more than guts. It will take changing beliefs and practices about what is important and why it is important. It will take giving teachers the right resources in the right way at the right time so that they can make the shift in their beliefs and practices. Whether it takes guts, common sense, commitment, all three, or something else perhaps the first step is to develop a critical mass of stakeholders who believe we should measure impact and quality in addition to or in place of what is currently measured.