So you have this great kid. He’s dynamic, smart, fun, curious, creative, and you love the way his mind works! Then he goes to school and they’re not seeing the same things you are. You hear he’s not paying attention. Not applying himself. Not keeping up. Not behaving. Then you hear – maybe it’s ADD ?
Standardized tests can strike fear in the heart of any man – young and old, but ever wonder why? It seems odd that a few questions that require a pencil dot on a Scantron Sheet, can bring forth such stress and emotion. This is especially true for visual-spatial learners whose test results don’t reflect their true intelligence or ability. Testing is designed with a left-brain bias. Linear-thinkers with good short-term memory and deductive thinking skills are much more likely to score well on standardized tests, because they measure the way the left side of the brain works, leaving our right-brain kids at a significant disadvantage.
Testing time is here in many US schools. When my kids were young, there was much less emphasis on standardized testing and test results. Now schools devote much of February getting kids prepared for standardized testing that happens in March. In some schools preparation is a review of material they have been learning in the classroom. In others it can mean a whole shift to cover material that they haven’t covered, but will be tested on. With all that’s weighing on test results; from teacher pay to school funding, there can be a tendency to stress. Parents may be stressed on what it means for their child. How might their child be ‘labeled’. Teachers can be stressed. School and district administrators are stressed – again because there’s a lot riding on those test scores.
There is a rather critical matter at hand in education and I want to speak very directly about it. The arts are being eliminated from our schools and testing is on the rise. There is a prevailing notion that we need less of the arts in order to make more time for the subjects that are being tested and for the tests themselves.
This line of thinking actually results in lower test scores and disconnected, discouraged, under-achieving students. Why? Because the arts, the very thing schools want to eliminate, are essential to the majority of the student population; not because art is a fun way to relax or express oneself – but because the arts actually fuel the brain. The majority of the student population are visual-spatial learners that NEED the arts to think effectively.
News stories about Common Core, the new federal standards for schools, are on the rise as schools gear up for spring testing. While I have long been opposed to standardized testing, like many others, I was hopeful improvements in education were on the horizon. Sadly, the more I read about Common Core, the more concerned I am for our children.
However I was recently reminded of the power of passionate informed parents when I read about two moms, Heather and Erin, that changed the course of education in Indiana: 2 Moms vs the Common Core: How an Eight Year Old’s Homework Assignment Led to Political Upheaval.
Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle led a campaign to inform fellow parents, educators and legislators about some lesser known details in the new standards.