Early indicators of creativity

A gift for spatial reasoning — the kind that may inspire an imaginative child to dismantle a clock or the family refrigerator — may be a greater predictor of future creativity or innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math, science and related fields, according to a study published Monday in the journal Psychological Science.images-2

As discussed in today’s New York Times, “the study looked at the professional success of people who, as 13-year-olds, had taken both the SAT, because they had been flagged as particularly gifted, as well as the Differential Aptitude Test. That exam measures spatial relations skills, the ability to visualize and manipulate two-and three-dimensional objects. While math and verbal scores proved to be an accurate predictor of the students’ later accomplishments, adding spatial ability scores significantly increased the accuracy.

“The researchers, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said their findings make a strong case for rewriting standardized tests like the SAT and ACT to focus more on spatial ability, to help identify children who excel in this area and foster their talents.

“Evidence has been mounting over several decades that spatial ability gives us something that we don’t capture with traditional measures used in educational selection,” said David Lubinski, the lead author of the study and a psychologist at Vanderbilt. “We could be losing some modern-day Edisons and Fords.” Continue reading “Early indicators of creativity”

Teaching to the test…and failing

It’s a terrible time for advocates of market-driven reform in public education. images-1For more than a decade, their strategy—which makes teachers’ careers turn on student gains in reading and math tests, and promotes competition through charter schools and vouchers—has been the dominant policy mantra. But now the cracks are showing. That’s a good thing because this isn’t a proven—or even a promising—way to make schools better.

Here’s a litany of recent setbacks: In the latest Los Angeles school board election, a candidate who dared to question the overreliance on test results in evaluating teachers and the unseemly rush to approve charter schools won despite $4 million amassed to defeat him, including $1 million from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and $250,000 from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall, feted for boosting her students’ test scores at all costs, has been indicted in a massive cheating scandal. Michelle Rhee, the former Washington D.C. school chief who is the darling of the accountability crowd,faces accusations, based on a memo released by veteran PBS correspondent John Merrow, that she knew about, and did nothing to stop, widespread cheating. In a Washington Post op-ed, Bill Gates, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting high-stakes, test-driven teacher evaluation, did an about-face and urged a kinder, gentler approach that teachers could embrace. And parents in New York State staged a rebellion, telling their kids not to take a new and untested achievement exam. Continue reading “Teaching to the test…and failing”

Not teaching to the test

Increasingly these days, testing and “data” are them main drivers of so-called “education reform.”

imgres

Once a term for progressive change in education, “reform” now means turning back the clock in many ways. And quantifiable results from standardized assessments now determine everything from a student’s graduation to a teacher’s employment status to the fate of whole schools and entire school systems.

“But across the country, a growing number of parents are exercising their legal right to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests, in favor of other assessments (such as portfolios) that are more organically connected to genuine teaching and learning,”reports TruthOut in a bracing essay by Brian Jones, excerpted below:

“Courageous teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle have voted unanimously to refuse to administer the district’s standardized tests this semester.

“’Our teachers have come together and agree that the MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress,’ said Academic Dean and Testing Coordinator Kris McBride yesterday.

“’Students don’t take it seriously. It produces specious results, and wreaks havoc on limited school resources during the weeks and weeks the test is administered.’ Garfield teachers were scheduled to administer the district-wide Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) to ninth graders in the first part of January. It is supposed to measure progress in reading and math, but teachers report it only wastes time and resources.

“’What frustrates me about the MAP test is that the computer labs are monopolized for weeks by the MAP test, making research projects very difficult to assign,’ said history teacher Jesse Hagopian.’This especially hurts students who don’t have a computer at home.’ The teachers also objected to a conflict of interest: when the district purchased the test for $4 million, the superintendent sat on the board of the very company that marketed it. Students are told the test will have no impact on their grades, teachers said, so they tend to hurry through it.

“Yet district officials use the test results to evaluate teachers’ effectiveness. ‘Our teachers feel strongly that this type of evaluative tool is unfair based on the abundance of problems with the exam, the content, and the statistical insignificance of the students’ scores,’ said McBride.”

 

For more, see: http://truth-out.org/news/item/13901-when-teachers-refuse-the-tests