One of the six original purposes established for Minnesota’s charter schools outlines in statute was to “measure learning outcomes and create different and innovative forms of measuring outcomes”. Today, some twenty three years later the reality is that while learning outcomes are being measured according to federal and state requirements, little in the way of creating different and innovative forms of measuring outcomes has taken place. A notable exception is the HOPE Study which measures student aspirations.
The short answer for why there has been little in the way of different and innovative forms of measuring outcomes, is that there has been untold amounts of money and massive lobbying efforts over the years to ensure that public policy recognizes and accepts standardized tests as the primary, if not the ultimate outcomes measurement.
If success on tests was the measure of success in life, then our public policy might make some sense, but test taking is not the ultimate measure of success. In fact, it is probably not even in the top 100 ways people measure success in their lives – yet, that is what public policy has determined to be the measure success of young people, teachers and schools.
Yesterday, I attended a Brunch and Learn at CliftonLarsonAllen where by Bob Wedl, former Minnesota Commissioner of Education gave a short presentation that posed four fundamental questions about measuring success and quality in charter schools. Why do we measure? What do we measure? When do we measure? And, How do we measure, success and quality?
These are the questions that public policy should address about measuring outcomes. Maybe, if we answered these questions honestly we would find that there are different and innovative forms of measuring outcomes. We might also just find what are real and meaningful measures of success which schools contribute to the lives of young people and society.