Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of columns highlighting the work being done across Kentucky by members of Local Laboratories of Learning (L3s). The L3s are part of the Kentucky Department of Education’s United We Learn Initiative, which is how Kentucky educators, families and community leaders will use innovation and meaningful student experience to prepare students for the future.
In the fall of 2021, I was asked to join Logan County’s Local Laboratory of Learning (L3). At the time, I didn’t really understand what that meant. I knew I would be attending some Zoom meetings, but I had no idea how deep this work would run or how important it really is.
I was asked to provide my perspective as a student on assessment, standardized testing and overall accountability in schools. As a student, sometimes you feel as though your education is decided for you. You have standards you have to meet and a certain curriculum your teachers have to follow.
This coalition has shown me that while I may not have a say in what I learn, I do have a say in how I want to learn and how that learning should be assessed. I’m also glad to not be the only student involved in this work, as there are four other students serving on our L3. It shows that not only the administrators want change, but so do my peers. I’m proud that we’re doing our best to represent the little guy, the ones who need change the most but often don’t have the opportunity to speak up and make it happen.
Our L3 is working on adapting with the changing education system and trying to meet the needs of all students. No two students are the same. They all have different strengths, needs and talents. Therefore, one manner of standardized testing cannot accurately measure if students are learning, absorbing the knowledge they need and thriving in their school environments.
Some students don’t test well; it’s that simple. They may understand every piece of content you throw at them but not be able to showcase that understanding on a test, especially when they’re put under the pressure of academic validation and the overwhelming need to succeed. However, if you give them anything hands-on or interactive, they can put what they have learned into practice with no problems. This is why multiple avenues of assessment must be utilized to provide a complete view of the child as a whole.
Keeping the community involved is a top priority to our team as this work continues. We want to make this transition as smooth as possible for teachers, administrators, families and students alike. We also want our community to understand why this change is needed and that we’re doing it for the good of all our students.
Some may resist a change in assessment and accountability, which is understandable. Once you get used to doing something a certain way, it’s hard to change. But if we present to our community all the information from the start, they’ll be on the same level of understanding as those who set this reconstruction into motion. If everybody in our community understands the importance and the need for this transition to a new way of testing, then hopefully they will be more cooperative in the progression of it.
When I was asked to be a part of this team, I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into. But as I listened to those more educated than I speak about the problems and need for change that is at hand, I began to understand exactly how important the work we’re doing is.
The truth is, this team is not one that’s all talk. How many times have you heard people go on and on about a pressing need for re-evaluation and modification of student learning and assessment, but never see anything actually done about it? That is the whole reason this team is so passionate about the work that we’re doing.
We’re tired of nothing changing. We’re here to aid in putting all of the words and thoughts of our students, staff, families and community into action. That is what our L3 team is all about.
Sage Meguiar is a sophomore at Logan County High School and a member of the Logan County Local Laboratory of Learning. She is the daughter of Ethan and Nicole, and sister to Braxton. She is currently on the Health Science Career Pathway, with plans on becoming a certified nursing assistant and attending nursing school after graduation.