Last month, I had the privilege of presenting National Reference Site Awards to STEM and communication media arts SmartLabs in North Shore School District 112 in Highland Park, IL. The District produced the video below to document the event. You can read their full newsletter article here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1H5I0iiEr1QN1nnukM8QzKMNbD0skzZBY_I3V5be3030/edit
Creative Learning Systems is partnering with the North Dakota Center for Distance Education to develop a SmartLab program to support blended learning for the state's rural communities. Dr. Alan Peterson, Director of ND CDE, is the visionary behind this this innovative initiative. Dr. Peterson recently shared his thinking behind integrating SmartLabs in the North Dakota educational mission on his blog.
You can read his blog here: http://blogs.edutech.nodak.edu/alanpeterson/2015/05/19/julius-my-path-to-a-smart-choice/
For most of my first decade at Creative Learning Systems, it often felt like we were a lone voice in the No Child Left Behind wilderness. Schools were under enormous pressure to meet federally-mandated testing guidelines. Despite the best of intentions, educators often had little bandwidth for programs like the SmartLab. We all knew better, but the unfortunate reality was that authentic learning had, by necessity, become subordinate to standardized test performance.
The pendulum is finally swinging in the other direction. Teachers, parents and students are fed up and their collective voices are being heard. In Colorado (home of Creative Learning Systems headquarters), legislators voted yesterday to reduce standardized testing requirements, to give schools more local control over testing, and to allow students to opt out without penalty. Moreover, the support for this legislation was broad and bipartisan.
We still have a long way to go before proper balance is restored, but the trend is clear: Learning matters and students are more than their collective test scores. At Creative Learning Systems, we’re proud to be on the right side of this effort.
On a lighter note, comedian John Oliver offered an insightful and hilarious perspective on the testing issue this Sunday on his show “Last Week Tonight”. Because of the sometimes terse language, I won’t embed the video here, but it’s worth heading over to YouTube and checking it out!