Before completing the MILE Guide assessment, I felt my school was strong in the implementation and instruction of 21st century skills. However, results from the Milestones for Improving Learning and Education (MILE) Guide assessment showed my district was in Early development for all areas except Policy Making, which was rated as 21st century.
Reflecting on some of the questions and my answers, I found some areas where my school and district are strong and some areas that need work or improvement. For example in response to question four, “What description best fits your school/district’s approach to classroom-based assessment of 21st century skills?” I answered “25-75% of student work is evaluated for mastery of selected 21st century skills (e.g., gifted classrooms may assess skills like critical thinking)” because I felt that most classrooms assess for mastery of some 21st century skills, but it is not consistent across all classrooms. This evaluation definitely occurs in higher level classrooms as the answer insinuates but also all English classes have some sort of year end portfolio, and performance based curriculum embedded assignments are in almost every class (especially math) with varying frequency of occurrence. Technology courses use such evaluations most often and with the greatest success as the nature of the classwork.
Another example is question ten, “What do you think best describes educators in your district/school?” which I answered “Between 25-75% of educators use inquiry based and project-based learning and tech-enabled assignments to improve core subject mastery.” Inquiry based model is used from Kindergarten through high school, however the level and consistency of its use in each grade and teacher varies from one to another. Additionally, project-based learning and tech-enabled assignments to improve core mastery vary from school to school and grade to grade. Even in different classes in an area depending on the teacher and their teaching style, there are different amounts of inquiry and project-based learning as well as tech-enabled assignments.
While my school and district does use the available technology reasonably effectively, a large area of concern is that we lack technology due to our limited budget. We have limited wireless in our building and a limited number of computer labs for our teachers to use. The computer labs that are in place are used for testing for a large percentage of the year. Therefore, teachers are not able to always use them for instructional purposes. Only one set of 4 iPads are shared among the school for teacher and student use. Teachers do use the available technology in a variety of ways including websites such as Khan Academy, National Library of Virtual manipulatives, and other interactive websites. Graphing calculators are used in many of the math classes.
My answer to question twelve (“How would you describe your district/school’s approach to partnerships?”) was “K-12 leaders occasionally partner with leaders in community organizations, public agencies, libraries and museums to share resources and facilities.” While partnerships exist, for example between schools with their classrooms being buddies or peer tutors, as well as partnerships with the senior center for volunteering, but not the extent that there could be. Community leaders and business in town could potentially become much more involved to the benefit of the students and school especially in regards to technology.
In response to question thirteen (How would you describe your school/district’s approach to continuous improvement around 21st century skills?), I responded “Student mastery of skills like critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration is being tracked across the district”. While there is an effort to achieve this, mastery could be more closely and consistently tracked from grade level to grade level and school to school. Additionally, different schools use slightly different programs and techniques (for example one is a HOT (where Higher Order Thinking is really highlighted emphasized) school, one school uses the inquiry model school wide, where in another school the inquiry model is really limited to Computers class.