CAE and Pearson Partner to Bring Critical Thinking Assessment to Secondary Education Students

NEW YORK (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Council for Aid to Education, Inc. (CAE), a leader in designing innovative performance tasks for measurement and instruction of higher order skills, today announced the immediate availability of its College and Career Readiness Assessment (CCRA+) through a non-exclusive partnership with Pearson [FTSE: PSON.L], the world’s leading learning company. Pearson will resell CCRA+ as part of its Pearson Assessment for Learning Suite (PALS).

Designed for students in grades six through 12, CCRA+ assesses critical thinking, problem solving and written communications – essential skills that are predictive of positive academic and career success. These skills are highlighted in Portraits of a Graduate profiles, yet most states and districts do not have an effective and reliable approach to measure these skills.

“CAE is proud to partner with Pearson to help schools and districts access our assessment tools to support student growth,” said Bob Yayac, president and CEO, CAE. “While more than 125 districts have developed or are developing a Portrait of a Graduate, our research and conversations indicate most have not identified how they will measure these skills in an objective, consistent and standardized manner. CCRA+ addresses this important need.”…Read More

Take a peek inside this teacher’s Escape Room learning challenges

Escape rooms are engaging for people of all ages—they require durable skills such as creativity, critical thinking, determination, and the ability to work in groups to solve challenges. It makes sense that educators would craft their lessons around the concept of an escape room—and that’s just what high school educator Lynn Thomas has done.

In this Q&A with eSchool News, Thomas details how she found inspiration to create escape room learning opportunities and the benefits she sees for her students–and she offers a look at a new ChatGPT challenge she’s created.

eSN: What gave you the idea to structure learning activities in an escape room-style challenge? …Read More

4 ways to enhance critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is plainly in decline.  Everywhere we look, people are uncritically consuming and spreading information that is distorted, misleading, and sometimes intentionally deceptive. Conspiracy thinking is rampant–QAnon, Alex Jones and the Sandy Hook shooting, Pizzagate, and unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud are just a few of the most notorious examples. The very foundations of our democracy are arguably at risk when millions are willing to believe irrational and unfounded claims.

Nobel prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow) demonstrated that we’re generally inclined to draw conclusions based on gut instincts, thereby avoiding the hard work of closely examining evidence.  Psychologists and neuroscientists have shown that we are subject to “confirmation bias,” the tendency to believe whatever reinforces our prior views and to disbelieve what challenges them. We are especially prone to this bias if changing our views would be costly–financially, to our reputation, or to our identity. These natural tendencies, exacerbated by the pervasiveness of social media and the limitless access to information on the internet, leave us vulnerable to being duped by disinformation.

But we are not defenseless.  There are some simple exercises we can use to combat both our natural instincts and the rising tide of digital misinformation.  …Read More

5 essential STEM education reads

STEM education is a critical part of a comprehensive K-12 education–it helps students build and improve critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and it teaches students to be persistent when presented with a challenge.

And while STEM education is essential, it’s not always accessible–underrepresented groups, including female students and minority students–often lose interest in STEM subjects as the subjects grow more challenging and as they move through school.

Representation is another obstacle to more ubiquitous STEM participation. When students don’t see STEM professionals who look like them represented in advertising, on TV and in movies, or in classroom resources, they have a harder time envisioning themselves in STEM careers.…Read More

5 ways to make way for science in an ELA and math world

How much time do you think the average K–3 student spends learning about science? Thirty minutes a day? An hour a day? Well, according to the 2018 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education, K–3 students spent an average of 89 minutes studying ELA, 57 minutes learning math, and a miniscule 18 minutes a day on science. These numbers aren’t too surprising when you consider that reading and math are high priorities in early grades. However, when educators fail to make room for science in their lessons, students can still lose out on essential growth. 

Science is much more than naming planets or memorizing the periodic elements. At its heart, science is about tapping into a student’s innate curiosity and creativity while fostering their critical thinking skills. It encourages them to ask important questions and discover answers by carefully examining their surroundings.

Given the incredibly packed school day schedule, finding room for science will take more than a little flexibility and creative thinking. Here are just a few resources and strategies that teachers can put into practice right away:…Read More

The purpose of a K-12 education: Who decides and how do we get there?

In a recent report by Populace (2022), 55 percent of American parents expressed their desire for educators to rethink how today’s K-12 schools are educating our children. The study found that, despite the widespread perception that American society wants K-12 schools to prepare students for college, college is not as important to parents as it used to be. Instead, the study reported, today’s parents would like to see their children develop practical skills “for both life and career” (p. 10), critical thinking skills that allow them “to problem solve and make decisions” (p. 8), and moral character traits such as “honesty, kindness, integrity, [and] ethics” (p. 20).

The Populace study reported that today’s parents want more individualized educational experiences for their children, with greater emphasis on students’ interests and personal/career goals than on a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Parents want their children to have learning opportunities across a variety of modalities, and they want learning to be assessed through demonstration of mastery as opposed to traditional assessments like standardized tests.

According to the Populace study, today’s parents believe that “better” (as in straight As and college bound) should not be the purpose of a K-12 education, but “different” (as in a customized educational experience for every student) should be. It seems that–at least for parents–the purpose of an American K-12 education is changing.…Read More

Why educational robotics is a critical STEM learning tool

Engineering is a critical part of STEM education, and engineers play a role in creating, improving, and maintaining some of today’s most valued and essential things, from smartphones and airplanes to zippers and roller coasters.

This year, Engineers Week celebrates “Creating the Future,” and it emphasizes the vital role engineers play in creating innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems and biggest challenges. Highlighting engineering also encourages students to pursue engineering classes and, potentially, engineering career paths.

When students become interested in STEM at a young age, their critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills have a chance to thrive. Sustaining that interest is important, too, particularly because girls and underrepresented minority groups quickly lose interest in STEM learning–and never regain motivation to pursue it.…Read More

Explore Interactive Announces Partnership with Award-Winning Curriculum Developer, EiE

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Explore Interactive and EiE, the award-winning curricula division of the Museum of Science, Boston,are now collaborating to expand engineering and STEM curricular resources to teachers and students across the globe. MindLabs by Explore Interactive brings state-of-the-art technology that, combined with award-winning EiE curricula, will provide teachers with standards-aligned, engaging activities to help students build skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, engineering design, and team collaboration — all skills required for jobs in the 21st century.

Explore Interactive and EiE will combine the power of research-driven curricula with engaging activities that use augmented reality (AR) for hands-on discovery. EiE currently develops research-based, classroom-tested programs that empower children to become lifelong STEM learners. Its pre-K-8 curriculum encourages all children, including those from underrepresented groups, to see themselves as engineers. MindLabs brings to the partnership expertise in augmented reality and digital resources for STEM learning as well as critical components for teaching, such as digital assessment, digital engineering notebooks, and integrated technology for social-emotional learning.

“Involvement in STEM subjects can help to develop a student’s critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills, all essential for success in STEM fields. Early exposure can also pique a student’s interest in STEM subjects and careers as well as dispel stereotypes or misconceptions about STEM fields,” said Katie O’Shea, Associate Director of Curriculum and Instructional Design at EIE, Museum of Science, Boston. “By incorporating MindLabs, we’re furthering our goals of helping students learn to think like engineers and promoting their STEM literacy.”…Read More

How to use alternative assessments in the classroom

Did you know that a 5th grade teacher is expected to guide students to mastery of 200 standards each year? Given a typical school year of 180 days, that’s 1.1 standards a day! Of course, standards don’t exactly work like that. You can certainly teach more than one standard a day, but that doesn’t give you time to explore them, unpack them, and revisit them, which is where learning and mastery actually happen. That’s a lot of content to cover, and not much time to do it in.

But this is only the beginning. Not all standards can be treated equally. Some have limited application and require lower levels of critical thinking; others are foundational to future learning and broadly applicable. So, how do we even begin to tackle this mess? How can teachers determine their power standards and assess student mastery in a way that’s both fun and effective?

One way to begin is by utilizing a scoring system to single out the standards that align to the chief priorities in your classroom. Consider implementing the following categories and grading them on a scale of 1–5: …Read More

How plagiarism makes the literacy gap worse

Plagiarism is becoming ubiquitous in academia as an increase in AI-powered writing tools become more advanced and available to students. As a result, educators are faced with preventing, identifying, and stopping plagiarism even as plagiarism becomes increasingly harder to detect.

But why should educators even continue to tackle plagiarism? What are the documented and potentially long-lasting impacts of students plagiarizing their work?

According to a recent study, there was a marked increase globally in paraphrasing and text replacement during the pandemic in 2020 compared to 2019. The average similarity score, which is the score that comes from detecting what content was paraphrased versus what is original, increased from 35.1 percent to 49.6 percent. This is especially troubling considering the already negative effects the pandemic had on education. The National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that the pandemic erased over two decades of progress with drops in both mathematics and reading scores for students at record highs. …Read More