Submitted by David Cameron from People for Education
This report provides an update on People for Education’s Measuring What Matters (MWM) initiative, including some of the early findings coming out of the school field trials.
… it isn’t about what [students] understand about seasonal changes in my science curriculum, it’s how they’re thinking critically and asking questions around those ideas within Science.’ I see [MWM] as a framework that gives greater purpose to what we are doing. And values the things we know are intrinsically important.
Measuring What Matters envisions a public education system that supports all students to develop the competencies and skills they need to live happy, healthy, economically secure, civically engaged lives; and that strengthens Canada—our society, our economy, our environment—by graduating young people with the skills to meet the challenges our country faces.
This vision can be achieved by:
- setting broad and balanced goals for student success that include numeracy, literacy, creativity, social-emotional learning, health, and citizenship; and
- ensuring that these goals drive policy, practice, funding, and accountability.
The goal of MWM is to explore a broader view of student success that includes a concrete set of competencies and learning conditions in the areas of creativity, citizenship, mental and physical health, social-emotional learning, and quality learning environments.
This year, eighty educators in 26 publicly funded schools and seven school boards tested the competencies in their classrooms and schools. Each field trial team designed and implemented a set of activities that were integrated within their ongoing work.
Several themes emerged:
- The work aligned with participants’ professional values as educators. It resonated with what they felt were central in learning experiences, but that often did not get the same attention as academic achievement.
- Educators took a range of approaches in their use of the MWM competencies. Some took a more narrow focus, addressing one or two competencies in a single domain; others explored combinations of competencies from several domain areas. The individuality in what educators focused on, and how they investigated it, demonstrates how personalized this work is, and how important it is to protect non-standardized learning contexts.
- There appears to be an inextricable and dynamic link between learning conditions and specific competencies that students express: learning conditions frame and support the expression of specific competencies and, conversely, the focus on specific competencies in relation to teaching, learning, and assessment supports teachers in exploring a greater range of possible conditions and/or learning opportunities.
- Strong interrelationships between the domains were evident across the study.
- The specific lexicon or “language of learning” of the competencies helped define sometimes broad but ambiguous areas of learning. The language gave educators clear pathways into actions and planning in classrooms, created opportunities to communicate with each other, and to generate new conditions.
- The framework supported broadening perspectives on where learning occurs in schools. A number of schools explored student experiences outside of the classroom, broadening the learning space beyond specific, situated moments in scheduled classroom times to include the whole school environment.