Intro Part 3: Effective measurement of learning

Measurement of Performance in Education (Why it is Important)

Morningside Academy in Seattle, founded in 1980 by Dr Kent Johnson, is a school that incorporates the measurement of learning into their everyday practice. They guarantee a child’s academic performance to improve by a minimum of one year’s growth in their weakest academic skill, within six-months of tuition and fluency-building practise. As such it is an impressive example of the effectiveness that can be achieved to combat academic failure when performance is measured and the teaching adjusted accordingly to meet the requirements of individual learners (Johnson & Layng, 1994; Johnson & Street, 2004).  Morningside Academy incorporates performance measures to determine each learner’s academic improvement at different times throughout the academic year: daily (micro), weekly or monthly (meta), and once or twice yearly (macro). Data collected for each learner for every skill enable teachers to predict future growth and adjust instruction accordingly to ensure that they maintain the learner on the appropriate learning trajectory to meet targeted progress goals. If such interventions can remediate deficits then learners may be able to effectively move from their current position in this distribution of deficit and approach or even enter the normal distribution of their typically performing peers.

Most schools and educational systems already utilise Macro level systems of measurement (e.g., standardised yearly achievement tests), and these offer benefits of being able to locate children with respect to their peers on key areas of the curriculum. However, these types of measures have three important limitations: (1) they are expensive and time consuming to administer, (2) they cannot identify learning problems when they are first developing, and (3) they typically offer little guidance on how teachers can intervene with specific learning issues.

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Intro Part 2: Evidence-based Practice & Practice-based evidence

Within education there are two broadly competing educational philosophies—traditional and progressive (Snider, 2006). Traditional education emphasises the need for students to progress through the curriculum in specific steps for each curriculum area, by achieving mastery of each preceding step, before progression on to the next; whilst, in contrast, progressive education promotes methods that are intended to foster children’s innate interest in learning; although this latter type of education relies on children progressing only as rapidly as they would learn on their own without any direct intervention (Fredrick, Deltz, Bryceland, & Hummel, 2002).

In order to develop and provide effective educational practices it is essential that education follow evidenced-based practice and practice-based evidence approaches. The former refers to the use of well-controlled scientific research in determining what has been shown to work. The latter refers to methods of monitoring practice that clearly demonstrates that practice is having the desired effects that were expected from the research evidence (i.e., in the case of education, is effective educational practice). Continue reading Intro Part 2: Evidence-based Practice & Practice-based evidence