For decades, researchers have been investigating and developing methods for testing the developmental potential of children in an accurate and repeatable manner. Often, assessments have fallen short in gauging the true potential a child has for learning and educational development, with some of the consequences being that children who “underperformed” on the assessment being put into classes that might not allow them to reach their full potential in exchange for a less impactful educational experience. We believe that education is an experience unique to the learner, and that all students should have the ability to explore what makes them most come to life with respect to education, and follow that path towards a bright and successful future. Thankfully, modern technology has allowed us to develop assessments that are far more granular than previous assessments, allowing researchers a better view into the individual components that come together to form the entirety of a child’s educational potential. While we work towards developing the perfect assessment, let’s discuss some of the drawbacks of current educational assessments.
Firstly, it is important to understand that every child in school is not a blank slate onto which a verdant portrait of all things important to learning will be painted. Instead, they bring with them a collection of cultural differences that nuance the ways in which they approach the subjects covered in class. For some children, differences in language between their home and school environment can make it somewhat difficult to become immediately comfortable with being in a traditional classroom. They might exhibit shyness, sit quietly by themselves, and look away when questions are asked in class; not because they do not know the answer or cannot understand the lesson, but more often than not it revolves around a small lack of confidence needed to make the child open up in class and become more involved. Also, it is important to remember that when getting a child to open up to a classroom of new students, it might take more time than expected, which is why we emphasize waiting until assessing a child’s developmental capacity. It would be horrible for a small bout of shyness to be the reason a child is placed into a learning plan that doesn’t tap into their full potential. Cultural differences manifest in many different ways, and understanding them is often as simple as asking a child to describe what they do for fun, how they play at home, and what they like to do when enjoying free time at home; these are great ways to have a child open up to their classmates, which raises their confidence and makes them more likely to participate in class, ask questions, and seek help when it is needed. It is only natural that different children will develop at varying speeds, what is important for parents and educators to understand is that allowing children to come into their own while they are young will work wonders for their confidence and overall sense of self in the future.
Next, let’s take a moment to stress the importance of understanding that different children will most likely develop at slightly different rates, and why that isn’t a problem at all when it comes to learning. We have noted in previous articles that it is crucial to develop a child’s confidence in the way of asking questions, and seeking out answers on their own. They need to feel validated in their approach before they feel confident in giving out an answer or further developing their knowledge. Current educational models work to bring children up to the same speed, where they can all learn and develop at the same rate, allowing teachers and professors to move through a topic knowing that their students are following along. However, recent developments have proven that in those settings, a student is more likely to feel left out in the crowd, and as they begin to fall behind in the lecture, become more quiet and less likely to participate. This is the reason many college classrooms fall into the problem of having the professor ask a question, only to have no students raise their hand, not because they don’t have anything to say, but they fear that not knowing the answer is a poor mark on their abilities. The truth of the matter is that mistakes are necessary for a student to understand how the process of solving a problem goes, and encouraging them to develop problem-solving skills, as opposed to skills that will not serve them as well in future learning environments. Most students will want to take things at their own pace, we need to change the lay of the land in order to allow them to feel confident doing so.
Finally, when it comes to discussing the drawbacks to current child assessment tests, the biggest one would have to be that most of them were not designed to measure a child’s true potential in education. Many, if not all, have a tendency to assess how a child would do among other children, or when placed against an “average student”. However, no test aims to understand the true potential a child possesses for certain studies. Assessing a child’s love for math, science, language, art, communication, and interaction can paint a picture of what they naturally love to do, and what they might want to learn about in the future. These are the avenues that need further exploration, because they have the potential to find the things that would give a child purpose, and not just introduce them into a system that might let them down. We believe in the power of learning, and the benefits that come with having access to tools that support learning and betterment, which is why we develop testing platforms that aim to empower the learner and make them more likely to seek out new challenges and experiences.