A different way to measure school learning?

The Society’s sixth online Education Café, held on 6 December 2021.

The plan for this event was to hold a conversation between Sarah Cottenden (Education consultant, UK) and Ben Rein (Senior Director of Outreach and Partnerships, Mastery Transcript Consortium, USA). Unfortunately Ben Rein was prevented from attending at the last minute, but a very useful discussion continued with Sarah Cottenden – to whom we are most grateful.

Ben will now be leading an online Café on Monday 9 May at 5:30 GMT

Meanwhile, here is a link to the Mastery Transcript Consortium. The site is well worth exploring for the details of this well tested approach. For a full account of the background, this article is probably as good as anything.

On YouTube there are several videos in which Ben Rein is being interviewed. If you would like to “meet” him there, just put his name into your search engine and look for video material.

Sarah Cottenden has a blog and has written a stimulating article for the Royal Society of Arts on ‘Education for the Individual’.

Reference was made during the December Café to other projects, including the Welsh Baccalaureate and the Extended Project Qualification, EPQ. The EPQ is offered by a number of providers, and a good overview is offered here by the Good Schools Guide.

For an inspirational example of the kind of work which schools can do, take a look at the website of IRIS, the Institute for Research in Schools.

From the Zoom Chat during the session, here are a few comments:

We have to make the distinction that learning to learn is not about learning to be a student – it’s that but much more than that – it’s learning to be a learner for life. By helping young people develop an understanding of themselves as learners, they are more supported than if they are just learning subjects and the odd visit to a counsellor.  The holistic development helps with well being.

I was wondering what happens to the less able children.  And listening now to Sarah, I think we need to accept that not everyone will be a high-flyer, and that there is also a role for them.

The Estonian system has three centralised final exams and a school based research project. It feels like an interesting and possibly effective balance.

There is also (globally) the International Baccalaureate Extended Essay at 18 and IB Middle Years Programme Personal Project at 16.  But … if you leave a project like this to the final years, you have to ask how well they are prepared for it.