Measuring What We Value

This tweet came through my twitter stream this morning and I was immediately taken back to a keynote that I’d heard delivered 2 years ago by Sir Ken Robinson for CODE. Sir Ken mentioned how good we are at measuring things…it’s just that we haven’t figured out how to measure the most important stuff.

That stuck with me and I think of it often. Now, here is Andy Hargreaves suggesting that we should measure things of value…and we shouldn’t ONLY value what we can measure. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should…sounds familiar.

So help me out…what should we be measuring? What do you believe are the important things that have value in learning?  What would you love to see measured?



  1. Brenda,
    I think this is the toughest question we face in education today. I also think if we were able to think in a more stratified way, it would help us answer that question. I really disagree with the quote because I think the question is more complex than a bumper sticker answer like this. It’s what gets us in trouble when we try to simplify something that is as complex as student learning.
    Is it “bad” that we measure for the lowest levels of learning? I guess I don’t think so. Based on the quote, I think it means I value it and I’m 100% fine with that. Why? Getting to those higher levels of learning (HOTS) requires the factoids of remembering & understanding. Where I think we stall out is when we only test at this level. That’s my beef.
    Instead of stopping here, I think we have to keep on going. Looking at our curriculum for the places where we measure the ability to analyze, to to summarize, to create a plan of action, to communicate what I learned and so on.
    It will also acomplish one other things I see as so important. We will not rely on the results of a single measure to gauge how well we are helping students to learn. Taking more than a single measurement will help us know what and how to proceed.
    Does that make any sense to you?


  2. Marsha,
    Thanks for your thoughtful response and for pushing my thinking like you do! I wish I’d had a science teacher like you — I know your students are in for a great year!

    So, thanks for calling me on the fact that grabbing a tweet like a bumper sticker is not a good idea. 🙂 During our class this week, I believe I said that I had a big beef about education being too reductionist! Yikes!

    I think that everything you say makes wonderful sense, especially if it’s the child’s teachers who are collecting information about their learning in order to help them move forward. I love what you say about going beyond lower level assessments and looking for opportunities to measure HOTS. In Ontario our Ministry creates performance assessments rather than standardized tests that attempt to do just this – – my beef is that these tests are administered in one school year and reported back in another so they really don’t provide a formative assessment that’s of value to that teacher and student. Can’t teachers be trusted to create assessments of value that can have big impact on student learning right NOW?

    I realize that I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the ‘you’ Hargreaves was referring to was ‘the system’ rather than the individual teacher – thanks for bringing a classroom lens.


  3. Brenda,
    I’ve been thinking about your words…Can’t teachers be trusted to create assessments of value that can have big impact on student learning right NOW?
    Now I’m ready to comment back. It seems to me that the issue of trusting teachers has become an issue. But no one really wants to distill it down to those terms.
    I know I’m an American Midwesterner, but our kind of logic says that if you hire someone to do the job, you’d better trust them to do it or they’re the wrong person. Common sense. The issue then becomes if we’re hired and retained why don’t they trust us?

    Again I’m stuck with the simple belief that in our profession it’s not acceptable to point out “who’s” not doing their job be it a teacher, a school or an entire district. We’re such cheerleaders, we have a hard time being harsh and making those hard calls. So if the perception is that we can’t be trusted to measure and evaluate the important things….if we can’t be trusted to do our jobs and someone somewhere needs a quick and easy and economical way to check up on us….

    Well, I say that it’s way more than teachers that are broken in this system. Somehow I really want the pressure to be applied to administrators to be relieved of all the meetings they must attend, all the paperwork that someone else surely has to be able to do…and for building administrators to get back to the job of being the instructional and assessment leaders of their buildings.

    They need to be out walking the halls, encouraging students and teachers alike, knowing what’s going on in every single room of the building. If I can be expected to personalize education for 120+ students I see in a day, then I believe an administration can do that same thing for their faculty. They should know each of them individually and be able to create plans of action/growth/development for every single teacher they supervise.

    And if that were the case, I think the trust factor would skyrocket from both the administration end of things and from the teachers believing that administrators know them, know their classrooms and care about them as both professionals and as a people. It’s what teachers are asked to do everyday. Why don’t we ask that of administrators?

    Re-establish the trust factor and then let teachers do their jobs and use their expertise.


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