Assess Students Differently – Future step with LiiNK

  • Assess with developmental tracking for grades K-5 twice a year: no grades; no standardized tests
  • More local control – decisions made at the school district level instead of the state level

We know through many developmental theorists, that we should allow children to develop cognitively and emotionally through the 5th grade before expecting different outcomes of learning. Children need the developmental time to mature and learn different concepts before categorizing them as successes or failures. The Finnish culture is true to its word with this one. They do not assess students with grades until after 5th grade. What is nice about this is that all students have the time to catch up and learn what they truly are strong and weak in.

Children need a learning environment that allows for flexibility to create and solve problems at very early ages. Give them a task to do and then let them work through it.

The Finns believe that their children’s success into adulthood is because they make good decisions based on their opportunities to learn this skill early in life. There is a common theme in the K-12 setting and in preparing teachers at the university level to give the students a task and then let them work in small groups, pairs, or individually to solve the problem.

Because the U.S. focuses on standardized tests as much as they do, the art of problem solving and critical thinking is lost. The irony of this is that without problem solving and critical thinking skills, children won’t be successful with test taking either.

Development of independent thinkers is a necessary component. Allow the student to make mistakes, but mentor them to become self-evaluators through the process and eventually think independently with success.  We want children who grow up to see the world with a critical eye, but an eye with the ability to create a picture with many lenses.



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Sahlberg, P. (2013). What if Finland¹s great teachers taught in U.S.? Washington Post schools? http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/05/15/what-if-fi

Scot, T.P., Callahan, C.M., Urquhart, J. (2009). Paint-by-Number Teachers and Cookie-Cutter Students: The Unintended Effects of High-Stakes Testing on the Education of Gifted Students. Roeper Review, 31, 40-52.

Segool, N.K., Carlson, J.S., Goforth, A.N., von der Embse, N., & Barterian, J.A. (2013). Heightened test anxiety among young children: Elementary school students’ anxious responses to high-stakes testing. Psychology in the Schools, 50(5), 489-499.