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January 24, 2015
Our Advisors Talk Measurement

The Measuring What Matters project is currently working to engage a wide array of educators and interested public to seek common ground about what is important for student success and what kinds of opportunities might be part of enabling students to exhibit competencies in broader areas of success in schools. The following points were discussed by the Measuring What Matters “Measurement Team.”

  • Paying careful attention to purpose is a valuable anchor to any work that advances broader measures in student success. All measurement has implicit or explicit purpose(s). The purpose of measurement guides the form of measurement used. In this initiative there may be multiple purposes for measurement e.g. accountability to the public, a way of drawing attention to what is important in schools, a way to support policy change, evaluation of value of a program, insight towards next organizational strategy or information generated through activity that leads to new insights in the classroom/schools.
  • School level measurement or assessment is used to inform learning and we should be cautious about ‘measuring kids to death’. It is critical that if we are going to use school level measures that they are ones that are vitally important towards informing classroom-school actions.
  • Focusing on the conditions or opportunities that students have to exhibit skills like creativity or social emotional learning is a critical aspect of any potential measurement of student competencies in broader areas of student success.
  • The use of sampling for some of these broader measures within each domain, Creativity, Citizenship, Social Emotional Learning, Physical and Mental Health and Quality Learning Environments to generate broader landscape views might be a good way to think about the work in broader measures.
  • Developing a matrix that unpacks measurement methods, purpose of measurement, units of measurement, and trade offs regarding type of measurement used, e.g. sampling versus assessing whole populations, and the local-provincial trade offs in either approach will aid in coming to terms with core purposes of any measures.
  • Some jurisdictions are travelling down the precarious road of developing individual student outcome measures for cultural elements like ‘character’. Digging in too deeply into individual competencies or outcomes in areas like creativity or citizenship is a road that could be problematic depending on method and purpose. In short, testing for character isn’t a good idea.

Given Ontario’s pursuit of new policy connected to students well-being and many jurisdictions’ work in a variety of broader measures—it is a good time for these discussions.

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