As a graduate student observing in public school classrooms—in 1996—Dr. Theo Dawson was shocked by the stark contrast between the educational experiences available to advantaged versus disadvantaged students. She feared that this contrast was about to deepen, due to the rapidly growing high-stakes testing industry. It seemed clear that these “right answer” focused tests would narrow the curriculum and drive teaching—especially in disadvantaged schools—toward the memorization of facts, vocabulary, definitions, rules, and procedures, and away from practices that foster deep understanding and skill. Convinced that accountability testing was here to stay, Dawson set out to create a radically different testing technology—one that would drive the kind of teaching that increases engagement while supporting a lifetime of learning. Dawson and her team at Lectica, Inc.—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit—have doggedly pursued this goal, developing new methods, conducting research, and engineering the first fully scalable platform for creating and delivering assessments specifically designed to foster optimal learning.
These highly sophisticated assessments, called DiscoTests, will be delivered free of charge to individual teachers everywhere. Dr. Dawson discusses the learning model behind DiscoTests, some of Lectica's research, and shows how DiscoTests work.