A Different Kind of Thinking: Shifting Approaches to Assessment and Teaching and Learning for the Benefit of All Students


ETS hosts 'A Different Kind of Thinking' to explore how learning systems can be designed to truly ensure diverse students are successful, in response to amplified stressors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated how stress taxes cognitive and emotional bandwidth. Reduced bandwidth makes it challenging for students to learn and perform. Is it reasonable to expect students to be able to compartmentalize their lives and perform up to their true ability while managing and coping with such threats to their bandwidth? The education community may now have a greater appreciation for how much poverty, trauma, or discrimination, and other such burdens, may impair student learning and performance on critical assessments.

Current assessments are seen by many people as failing to adequately measure the talent and potential of a growing share of the population who show up to their classrooms and assessment situations with a reduced capacity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. No longer can the nation depend on assessments and approaches to teaching and learning that do not consider the diversity of the population of students, who they are and what they bring to the table.

The time is now to leverage growing knowledge about students and embark on a new conversation and path toward placing the broad population of students at the center of assessments and teaching and learning. This represents a paradigm shift away from one-day high-stakes assessments that inadvertently sort students into educational haves and have-nots and a pivot toward considering the conditions that will accommodate students’ capacity to reveal who they are and encourage their optimum performance.

Imagine what could be achieved if assessment and teaching and learning systems are designed with the aim of success for the entire diverse student population and the whole of each student in mind. Could higher education institutions be equipped to produce profiles of students that assists in matching them to the proper supports that help them identify and realize their educational goals?

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