We asked prominent voices in education—from policy makers and teachers to activists and parents—to look beyond laws, politics, and funding and imagine a utopian system of learning. They went back to the drawing board—and the chalkboard—to build an educational Garden of Eden. We’re publishing their answers to one question each day this week. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Today’s assignment: The Classification. What impact do students’ individual abilities have on their education?
Rita Pin Ahrens, the director of education policy for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
In an ideal school, there will be more diagnosis and detailed reporting on what students know and can do in relation to the academic objectives that are identified at their grade level, complemented with reporting on students’ strengths on social and emotional skills that are valuable for career readiness and civic engagement. This information will be readily available to the student, parents, and teachers at any time to allow all stakeholders involved to offer remediation and enrichment where necessary. There will be less emphasis on grading for specific subjects than there would be for accomplishing learning objectives. The key is to have a rich, detailed view of what the student knows and can do. Advancement will then be at the student’s pace, but there will be expectations for how quickly a student should advance. With flexible scheduling and more time in both the day and the year for schooling, students will have more opportunity to catch up during, before, or after school.