Navigating the Data Dilemma: A Teacher’s Journey to Measuring Success Beyond Numbers

Mar 1, 2024

In the world of education, the question of how to assess student success arises frequently and often poses a unique challenge. As someone who came into the classroom from industry – rather than as a traditional teacher – I found this especially challenging.

Back in the mid-2000s, education was in the middle of a seismic shift towards an increased emphasis on testing and data collection. Administrators would often ask, “How do you assess this? Where’s your data?” As someone who came from a world where performance was measured by tangible outcomes and real-world achievements, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated by this relentless pursuit of data.

This disconnect between traditional educational assessment methods and the practical achievements of students was particularly pronounced in my role. Despite not having a background in assessment, the successes of my students were obvious and significant. The fixation on data seemed to overlook the essence of what we were truly aiming to achieve in the classroom – fostering skills and abilities that would carry our students forward in the real world.

That said, data and assessment aren’t invaluable; that’s what makes the idea of capturing clearly demonstrated skill growth such a challenge. How could skill development in areas like problem-solving, professionalism, and self-assessment be reliably and validly measured? When building the EntrepreNew Pathways Program, we took a different approach to this challenge. We created the Global Power Skills (GPS) assessment, offering a nuanced framework for assessing student growth in the areas that matter most in entrepreneurship and beyond. These assessments (called GPS Checkpoints), are taken by students at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the program, in conjunction with two Instructor GPS assessments, and track the development of these essential skills.

The emphasis in this tool is not on traditional grades but on the progression of students’ confidence and competence in the Global Power Skills. By establishing an accurate baseline and conducting subsequent assessments, we can gauge each student’s journey through the program, providing valuable insights that go beyond numbers. This method acknowledges the diversity of success paths, understanding that not every student will venture into entrepreneurship but that the skills acquired are universally applicable and invaluable.

Moreover, administering these checkpoints with a focus on honesty and self-reflection allows for a more authentic assessment of where students stand and where they might need additional support.

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