Imagine students who can not only grasp the concepts of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, courses through the diligent application of the scientific method, but also generate original and thought-provoking work in the humanities. Picture them creating intricate pieces in fine, performing and culinary arts, and graduating with a thorough comprehension of holistic health and physical well-being. Isn’t this the kind of holistic education that benefits society?
But such growth and learning cannot be conveniently distilled into numerical values. It’s a fallacy to assume that numbers hold the ultimate truth about the depth of our students’ learning.
The New York State Education Department has created a blue-ribbon committee to present potential changes to graduation measures. One desired change is to shift toward more holistic assessments that evaluate a broader range of skills and knowledge alongside the traditional Regents exams, incorporating project-based assessments, portfolios, presentations and other methods.
Additionally, there is a need for more flexible pathways to graduation, acknowledging students’ diverse strengths, interests and career goals. New pathways could involve offering various courses, internships and experiences on college campuses, allowing students to specialize in their areas of passion.
A focus on real-world relevance is also important, emphasizing practical skills, critical thinking, problem solving and the application of knowledge to prepare students for future challenges. The aim is to create a learning environment that nurtures mastery, creativity and individual identity, in which students can pursue their unique interests and meet their specific needs. By fostering each student’s unique identity, we can ensure equal opportunities for success and access to necessary resources and support, irrespective of their background or circumstances. It would require flexible scheduling, differentiated instruction, and opportunities for students to pursue their interests.
Daniel Rehman is the superintendent of the West Hempstead school district.