May 9, 2012From Kim Farris-Berg, Students Speak Out director. In a 2011 online project with teens from around the nation, the Citizens League's Students Speak Out asked, "Should we broaden our nation's predominant definition of student achievement?" Teens are frequently exposed to the predominant definition of student achievement. It is part of their daily lives in their schools. But Citizens League wondered: What would teens say if they were exposed to some of the lesser-known ideas in today's dialogue? This week we released the answer to this question in a new report: Teens Think Deeply About Student Achievement. Through May 31, we are inviting reactions and feedback on the project Web site, located here. This project evolved out of the Citizens League's participation in dialogues about achievement and assessment around Minnesota. There is some disagreement regarding what students should know and be able to do when they graduate from high school, even as our state currently requires its young people to meet high standards in order to graduate. Some citizens and organizations are on-board with current policies, while others deeply question whether the policies will increase student achievement and maximize use of limited resources. Students' voices are a rarely heard voice in this mix. With their futures at stake, the Citizens League believes students' thinking must be a part of the dialogue. Our purpose in taking on this project was to learn from teens' insights and experiences. Over a nine-week period, a diverse group of teens answered questions from adults with outside-the-mainstream perspectives about student achievement and went on to dialogue with other project participants about each topic - digging deeper into one another's ideas. There were six primary findings: Finding 1: Teens agreed that reading, writing and math are important. But mastering these subjects - especially as they are taught today - is not all that is important when it comes to student achievement. Finding 2: Teens said that as long as knowledge can be legitimately demonstrated, students should be awarded credit for what they have learned both inside and outside of schools. Finding 3: Teens said that individual progress should be acknowledged as achievement, even if a student's highest-level of achievement in high school does not meet what her state has defined as 'high standards' or does not qualify her for a four-year college. Finding 4: Teens said they need and want a lot more information about the array of higher education opportunities as well as counseling services that would help them as they determine their own best choices for success. Finding 5: Some teens were comfortable with current cultural expectations of adolescents, but others wondered if they might achieve more if they were expected to take on greater levels of personal responsibility. Finding 6: Some teens reported their belief that a major cultural shift will be required for there to be any change in our current approach. We encourage you to read Teens Think Deeply About Student Achievement, and invite your feedback on this topic as it relates to your own work or experience. Also, please email us at ssoachievement[at]citizing.org if you'd like us to share this paper with someone specific.
Posted by lschumacher at May 9, 2012 1:28 PM