Posted by Jeff Cacek on 3/28/2014
As you know from previous posts, at North Park our students are mastering more than the requisite reading and math skills. Reading and math mastery will always part of the foundation of any excellent education, but in order to be competitive in the 21st Century job market, mastery of additional skills – communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking (the 4 C’s) – are essential. At North Park, we are on the forefront of schools providing students practice of the 4 C’s.
We are passionate about this commitment to our students and we want to be able to measure growth toward their mastery. However, no high stakes test exists that measures these essential skills. There is not a 4 C’s section of the MCA, MAP test or any other standardized assessment. This will not deter us, though. In our collaboration with Wilder Research and the University of Minnesota, we are partnering with 2 highly respected organizations to develop tools to measure what our students can do.
With Wilder Research, we have created a logic model defining outcomes for students and staff in the area of 21st Century Skills. The logic model will serve to support our development of a 21st Century Skills rubric our students and teachers will use to assess growth in communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity skills. The 21st Century skills rubric will help us to develop a program evaluation tool to be used by objective evaluators in order to measure program effectiveness. Additionally, Wilder will conduct stakeholder surveys to better understand our needs and successes.
Our assessment of programming will not stop there, however. Professor John Comazzi of the University of Minnesota School of Architecture has expressed fascination with the compelling environments provided in our Learning Studios. Recently, we entered into an agreement with him to conduct research in the role space plays in supporting 21st Century skills programming. Professor Comazzi will specifically attend to how the Learning Studio spaces increase student engagement and provide flexibility for collaboration and minimizing wasted instructional time. The results will be used to assist the creation of similar learning spaces at North Park and elsewhere. In addition, other university researchers will be engaged to help measure student engagement and academic progress.
Clearly, we are interested in quantifying the effectiveness of our programming at North Park and the growth of our children. One day, we hope to see 21st Century skills valued as highly as reading and math and we are leading that movement.