The US continues to lag behind many industrialized nations as measured by the international summative assessment Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The question seems very simple to me. “How is this possible?” Yet, the solutions are complex and nebulous because student learning practices are not aligned to the critical outcomes required by the PISA. Creating a “show-me” type of learning environment, often referred to as performance-based assessment, creates a learning culture focused on doing and problem solving. The ability to test and defend a proposition creates a vibrant level of debate and stimulates the levels of inquiry in the learning environment; thus, spurring ingenuity and innovation.
To tackle the PISA learning tasks, schools can infuse 21st Century Learning Skills as a remedy. 21st Century Learning Skills are compartmentalized into six performance-based student learning tasks called the 6-Pack. The 6-pack is a systemic approach that can be inserted in the learning tasks of any unit or lesson plan as both formative and summative assessments; therefore, not becoming another “flavor of the month” stand-alone instructional strategy. Utilizing the 6-pack requires students to reconstruct learning by focusing on the synthesis, application and evaluation of information. Thus, the 6-Pack performance-based assessment process was strategically implemented by high school teachers in Detroit Public Schools in order for students increasing rigor in their learning.
The 6-Pack process is a system that empowers students to make a choice as to which assessment tool(s) they want to apply when demonstrating the application of learning. Students have a choice of which 6-Pack item(s) best illuminate and enhance their learning. Provided with a choice, the learners can use 6-Pack performance-based assessments to articulate their comprehension and application of the academic content. An individual or groups of students can work on multiple 6-Pack tasks everyday as a formative assessment component leading toward the development of an authentic summative assessment. Students become more accountable for their learning, stay on task and are more engaged while utilizing these 6-Pack learning strategies. The 6-Pack strategies are an essential value-add for 21st Century learning communities seeking to propel the levels of ingenuity and innovation in learning.
- Persuasive writing
- Use graphic organizers
- Interview skills
- Oral presentations
- Use of technology demonstrations