In my early days of teaching we talked about Quizzes and Tests, and we gave them to ascertain a grade for our students. Eventually we started talking about assessments, and assessments that did not have to be confined to quizzes and tests. This led us to examine differentiation. All of the assessments in a course did not have to be the same, and every student did not necessarily take the same assessments as every other student. Then we started to see how assessments could inform us about the structure of our courses. The content did not have to be static. It could developed to best meet the needs of the students. Then we found that assessments did not belong only at the end of a unit or the end of the course. We discovered formative assessments. These could tell us how students were progressing and shine the light on what we needed to adjust in the course to help our students be successful. Now we have the fairly recent term: analytics. Everyone now participates in analytics. Students can customize learning according to their own learning style. Teachers can customize courses to meet the needs of all of the students, and/or the needs of groups of students, and/or individual students. This customization flourishes best in courses using digital resources. There is little a teacher can do with a hardcover textbook, but the Internet offers richness of resources upon which the teacher can call. While the assessments and analytics discussed above are of primary concern to me and my students, other stakeholders are using analytics regularly to chart the course of the school as a whole. There are decisions that must be made at administrative levels for the health of the entire learning community. If the school does not prosper, our courses, our students and we are endangered. The wise stakeholders at the top can offer standardization that brands the school and helps students and parents see cohesion in the school. Importantly, these same stakeholders can, and should, offer teachers the creative freedom to design what functions best in their courses and with their students. The examination of analytics by all stakeholders can result in cooperative planning that benefits everyone and the school itself.
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