How Do You Measure Success in Learning?

| January 4, 2011 | 2 Comments
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“Some kids who struggle the most are bright kids who’ve always gotten A’s but now are not necessarily getting the grades they’ve gotten. When it comes to things like collaboration, critical thinking, pushing above and beyond, they don’t know what to do when they’re graded on those things and sometimes they get a D on an assignment. Other kids who’ve never been successful are doing great.”

– Howard Mahoney, principal of Napa New Tech High School in Napa, California.

I’ll be posting more articles about the school and its innovative program in the next few days.


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  • Marksalata

    This is counterintuitive for some teachers that I provide professional development for inquiry-based learning/teaching. They falsely believe that the students who do poorly in a traditionally didactic classroom will flounder in a student-centered classroom that demands more of the learner. If done correctly, in fact, those students are engaged much more in an inquiry-based classroom. One of the main reasons for this is that now their ideas are welcomed and asking all kinds of questions is expected and respected. The student who excelled in a didactic classroom by rote memorization now has to relearn the ‘game’ and wonders how to get a high score (since he/she has been conditioned to think that the high score was the purpose of being educated). It is wonderful to see a diverse classroom learn to excel together and embrace each other’s different strengths.

  • Tina Barseghian

    Agree, Mark. It’s exactly the *type* of learning that’s changing at schools like Napa New Tech. I wonder how and if new kinds of state assessments the DOE is looking into will better capture this information, too.