Measuring Human Return

What do we value as humans?

Some things are important no matter where or who we are. These universal human values demonstrate what we want for ourselves and others both individually and collectively, along with what it really takes to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life. They show us what matters and where we have to “be” to succeed. When people talk about what really matters they speak to four overarching outcomes of living and learning: (1) self-understanding, (2) knowledge, (3) competency, and (4) connection. These deeper learning outcomes are universally valued because they’re the very outcomes that help us contribute to others’ lives and the world in meaningful and fulfilling ways. They help us to succeed and to help others do the same.

What do we value in schools?

Schools can (and do) talk a lot about the deeper learning outcomes and education’s role in supporting its students to achieve lifelong success. But buried underneath the language of our school systems’ mission statements, strategic goals, and formal policies is a truer test of what they actually value: what do they measure? In schools, we emphasize a holistic approach to our children’s education and in some cases adopt new practices and approaches intended to develop the whole child, but then the conversation stops there – we continue to measure students’ performance using narrow and incomplete indicators of success. In large part, students’ academic performance is currently determined by what they know. Knowledge is important, but it isn’t everything we value; knowledge alone is not fulfillment.

The discrepancy between what schools say they value and what they actually measure is important for two reasons: (1) what schools measure is what schools focus on and (2) measurement is the only way to know whether what we’re doing is working. Without measures to back up the outcomes we say we value, we won’t help students develop those outcomes in truly intentional and purposeful ways. And even if we say we’re developing an outcome, without measures we won’t truly know if we’re succeeding. As long as there’s a gap between what we say we value and what we actually measure in schools, we won’t be fully supporting our students to succeed in the ways they need to.

How can we bridge the gap?

In the past, we’ve struggled to support students to develop the full range of deeper learning outcomes because we either (1) hadn’t explicitly identified them or (2) didn’t know how to measure them. In fact, over the years traditional thinking has told us: “There’s no way to measure every outcome we value.” But it’s time to flip the thinking: “If we truly value an outcome, it’s our responsibility to measure it.” Fortunately, we can.

Measuring Human Return: Understand and Assess What Really Matters for Deeper Learning responds to the issues facing educators today in their work to develop the outcomes that matter. In addition to introducing and describing the deeper learning outcomes as those toward which to focus all efforts in our school systems, Measuring Human Return provides the tools, approaches, and framework for measuring and developing students’ self-understanding, knowledge, competency, and connection, along with the professional capabilities required to bring those outcomes to life.

It features the following:

  • A new measurement framework and collaborative change team approach centered on deeper learning outcomes and what enables their development
  • Measures, guides, and other tools designed to help you measure, assess, and track deeper learning
  • Vignettes and examples that demonstrate how deeper learning has been successfully implemented, assessed, and measured in diverse school and school-system environments
  • An ongoing case study exploring one US school district’s deeper learning journey at each stage of implementation
  • Recurring activities and reflections that will support deeper learning implementation in your own context

By measuring students’ self-understanding, knowledge, competency, and connection we’re measuring human return – the human capacity to contribute back to the lives of others and to the world, fully realized at the intersection of deeper learning outcomes. By measuring human return, we’re developing our students’ capacity to make a positive difference in the world.

Collectively, we’ve always known what we want for our students. Now, we’re in a position to measure it; we’re in a position to help learners achieve real and lasting success by shifting the focus of our educational systems from knowledge acquisition to human return.

Measuring Human Return is available now through Corwin Publishing and for pre-order on Amazon.