Finally in Virginia, there is movement to eliminate the multiple choice tests heavily focused on content. Tony Wagner points out in his book, Most Likely to Succeed, that just because you drill a student on the definition and spelling of tenacious doesn’t mean that the student will be tenacious. He further states that drilling students on solving simultaneous equations does nothing to help them learn how to solve complex problems in life. It is definitely time to move away from teachers covering a laundry list of facts and students completing mindless tasks in order to take state mandated tests. Performance-based assessments are slowly being implemented and replacing the out dated SOL tests. For students to be successful on these assessments, they will need the same skills the new global economy is demanding for them to be successful. Collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking are the “Four C’s” that are integral to our students’ future. Integrating these skills into the daily curriculum is long overdue.
As economies around the globe experience a steady decline of large bureaucratic companies, we can already see job creation coming from small, nimble companies with creative and innovative workers. Therefore, the key question for our county is, “How well are we preparing our youth to succeed?” Tony Wagner states that if we continue to drill the innovation and creativity out of our students, we face the chilling prospect of having tens of millions of young adults without the skills necessary to participate and flourish in this new world.
The difficult task for many school divisions will be convincing teachers to change their way of teaching from this decades-old method. If we continue to focus on what’s best for our students, then there shouldn’t be any debate about the urgency of making these changes in the classroom. I am encouraged to see inspiring examples of teachers who have already embraced this new challenge by turning their classrooms into engaging environments that enable students to create and discover without fear of failure. Our teachers and educational leaders are having the important conversations now about how to embrace the changes that are necessary and identifying the training that will need to be provided as we move forward in meeting the needs of our post-millennials or Generation Z.