A narrow one-dimensional concept of achievement misses, overlooks, other skills and knowledge that can and must be developed in students. English and math, though important, are not the only academic subjects that matter, and academic subjects are not all the learning that matters.
Opinion is growing that social-emotional skills are important, and can be cultivated. Interest is broadening in the so-called “21st Century Skills”. Diminutive terms such as ‘non-cognitive skills’ are being replaced by terms like ‘higher cognitive skills’.
Better, more fine-grained formative assessments of student knowledge and progress—or lack of progress—should be used to shape and adapt students’ learning trajectories. And, broader assessments should be developed and used to identify both the skills and knowledge present and the skills and knowledge missing. New information about a student’s heretofore unmeasured skills will open new routes to achievement. More kinds of achievement will be seen, and respected.
What Will Result?
New, better, broader methods of assessment will develop and mature rapidly as they are embraced. More children will achieve more; more different kinds of achievement will be visible. The old concept of ‘the achievement gap’ will become more complex as different students are shown to do well at different things, have different strengths.
Students will know themselves and their capabilities better; will better explain their knowledge and skills to the organizations to which they seek admission. Assessment, testing, becomes more about helping students learn, less about ‘who is to blame’ for students not learning well.