It is time to change course with measurement


The other day I spoke to the Federal Reserve of Richmond and other banking professionals remotely across the country on why technology has changed our conception of knowledge but not our assessment of knowledge in schools. It was based on my talk for TEDxRVA but more about the idea of measurement. Essentially, by following the path of measurement as we currently conceptualize it we we are limiting our economic future by measuring the wrong things. If we wanted to measure what we will need in students in the future we would measure the 4 C’s communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative problem solving. Instead we are measuring in students what technology can already independently solve equations, remember facts, auto-correct sentence structure. This is why, even though our best teachers ARE successful at meeting the standards, we need to look our evaluation and accountability system anew. It is not going to get us where we want to go.


After my talk one of the bank employees sent me the above video. This woman told me about how young African American men are not being served by the supposed meritocracy we have set up and that, in her opinion, although many African Americans have spent a long time learning and practicing how to be successful in this same construct. The meritocracy is no longer valid and still we fail young men before they have a chance to show their contribution to society because of this false measurement. The meritocracy is setup to label potential but the skills measured by the meritocracy will need will not make them successful.


It is time to change course. It is time to change course. It is time to change course before we run aground. I leave you with a quote from the above video.

This one is for my generation. The ones who found what  they were looking for on Google. The ones who followed their dreams on twitter. The ones who pictured their future on Instagram. Accepted destiny on Facebook….The purpose of why I hate school but love education was not to initiate a worldwide debate but to let them know that whether 72 or 88. 44 or 68. We will not let exam results decide our fate.

  • ArielSacks

    Thank you John

    John, thank you for sharing this amazing video. I had not seen it. What an impressive young voice. I don’t agree 100% with everything he says, but I agree his generation is being misled, and I think you explain why well.  The tests are out of control and totally misguided. I loved his point about Shakespeare. And the picture he creates of the parent not understanding the world kids are living in.  What I don’t agree with is his suggestion that concepts learned in school that don’t have direct application in one’s career don’t have value.  It’s often hard for kids to see, but when taught well, understanding the Pythagorean theorem or elements of literature help anyone learn to think critically, see patterns, etc. Application isn’t direct, though it is important.  But how would one separate this from all of the meaningless content and unuseful processes students are put through?  The learning has to be meaningful for students, and therefore has to include actual experience, and be driven by student thinking and questions rather than teacher thinking.