Teachers today are tasked with preparing students for an increasingly uncertain future. For example, the changing technological landscape has seen some jobs become less relevant, while new jobs have emerged or expanded. The 21st century is also seeing changes beyond employment, and students need to be prepared to engage as change agents in dynamic, democratic societies which face longstanding challenges. Policy makers around the world have long recognized the importance of education, and this has seen a great deal of public funding directed towards improving education. There appears to be a disconnect, however, between the programs implemented by governments, such as No Child Left Behind, and the realities that classroom teachers face. Government policy makers have historically favoured ‘market-based’ reforms that emphasize “efficiency” and processes. These policies have seen the expansion of standardized tests, formal teacher inspections, and rigid curriculum. The philosophies that underpin this approach to curriculum are perennialism and essentialism, which are further manifested in discipline and subject designs of curriculum. As in the conception of curriculum as technology, these policies focus on standardization of the process of teaching and are subject-designed.
Despite its seeming dominance in policy circles, there are many who doubt that ‘market-based’ reforms in fact improve educational outcomes. In fact the USA and England, despite large scale reforms, continue to lag behind jurisdictions such as Finland and Alberta in international tests such as PISA. Many teachers in these jurisdictions, and many others like them, instead are moving towards inquiry-based curriculum. The philosophies that these curriculum designs are based on are reconstructionism and progressivisim. These curriculum designs are inherently learner or problem centred, and they rely on teachers relying on student feedback to inform their teaching. That is to stay, in the words of Dr. Ken Robinson, that these curriculum designs focus go beyond the task of teaching expand to the actual achievement of effective teaching and learning. To quote Robinson, “Education doesn’t go on in the committee rooms of our legislatures,” and this has the implication that teachers and students should be given the discretion to learn about things and in a manner that best facilities high-quality learning. Assessment then, needs to be support learner-based instructional approaches. Standardized testing certainly can play a role in this, however, the experiences of many countries seems to bear out that it can not be the sole focus of a successful education system. Instead standardized testing should be but one tool amongst many other tools, that support the creation of a data-rich environment which underpins planning and instruction in a such a way that effective teaching and learning is achieved.
Data. (n.d.). Retrieved August 03, 2017, from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/data/
Robinson, K., Dr. (2013, May 10). Retrieved August 03, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX78iKhInsc