I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately on the shift taking place in education, particularly in North America, where school boards and governments are deciding to move away from traditional exams and grading systems. For example, Ontario is now saying that high school students are no longer technically required to write exams to graduate; students can prove their learning in other ways. While I am all for changes in education, this raises some questions and thoughts for me.
Firstly, when these decisions are being made, are post-secondary institutions being informed and included in the process or are they being regarded as an afterthought? To me, education should be thought of as a whole – post-secondary included, otherwise there will be a huge inconsistency between high school and university/college as the teaching methods and expectations will differ, which could significantly impact students who aren’t prepared for the switch. Secondly, if high schools decide they are changing the way students are being evaluated, what does this mean for post-secondary institutions and how they determine which students qualify to enter? Are they left scrambling to come up with alternatives to relying on test scores, or are they being kept in the loop so they can plan accordingly?
This gets me wondering if perhaps the whole system of students graduating and then having to apply for universities/colleges needs to change – meaning simply incorporate post-secondary with K - 12 and make it less about having to apply and more about switching to a system where anyone can enter a post-secondary institution and pursue studies in their chosen field. To me, this just seems like more of a natural progression given the massive changes that are being suggested in the lower levels, but perhaps that is just me. Additionally, if education were thought of holistically - as K-Post-Secondary instead of K-12 - this would eliminate the stress of universities/colleges having to come up with a different way to assess students to determine who they will accept. Perhaps it would also open the door for professors to join professional development at the lower levels and vice versa so that education as a whole would be moving in the same direction simultaneously, thus ensuring the continuity of teaching and learning methods for students.
I am not sure exactly what this unified system of K - Post-Secondary would look like or if it could realistically be done, but I do feel that education should be seen as a whole because if the bottom levels continue making sweeping changes that the top levels are unaware of or are unable to adapt to given the way things are currently being run, I have concerns for this upcoming generation and what it means for them.
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