Art Matters

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 “A new report by a presidentially appointed committee on arts education makes the case that art education not only helps young people find their voice but also is an effective tool in improving student achievement in all subjects. It even ends up helping the private sector too….

What the report advocates makes a great deal of sense, especially in an era when the arts have been given short shrift in a rush to concentrate on subjects that are measured by standardized tests, especially math and reading, and education funding has been cut…

The report strains to discuss research that attempts to connect arts education with student achievement, because today, somehow, we have to have “research” that proves things that are self-evident.

If you have ever watched kids learn, you know that engaging them through the arts is much easier than trying to get them to memorize facts. It’s a no-brainer to infuse arts in learning across the disciplines, but, because there is no standardized test attached to it — at least not quite yet — it is looked on as less important…

So this is where we are today: Not only do advocates find themselves in the defensive position of having to “prove” the value of arts education in relation to test scores, but the whole exercises belittles the importance of creativity as a value necessary to the development of young people who are going to become active participants in American civic life…”

Source: “Report: Why we need arts education (not only to improve test scores)” Valerie Strauss, The Answer Sheet, 5/20/11

 

Schooling should help children DISCOVER their own unique talents, not “standardize” them.

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Grading teachers based on when their students acquire and master a specific set of skills, is like grading parents based on when their children learn to tie their shoes or ride a bike.

While, most people can learn to ride a bicycle, not everyone has the innate ability, determination, and desire to become a BMX racer.

When it comes to acquiring new skills, the level of proficiency a student achieves and the speed at which that occurs, depends on a variety of factors including; type of instruction, how often they independently practice and use the skill, parental involvement, student engagement, and most importantly, cognitive ability and disability.

The Common Core State Standards are specific “goals and expectations for the knowledge and skills students need in English language arts and mathematics at each grade level.”

Every student is expected to meet these standards or “targets” on schedule, and regardless of each student’s cognitive ability or disability.

All high school students will not be able to pass a Calculus class, just as not every student will be reading on grade level at the end of each school year. Testing students repeatedly does not improve their skills or change their abilities and disabilities.

A Standardized test score does not explain why a student performed at a particular skill level and cannot predict how they will perform in the future, or even when they will acquire and master a particular skill.

The rate of speed at which each student acquires new skills will most certainly change from year to year and it is speculative at best to determine the “college readiness” of an elementary student based on a data point.

There are many factors that impact student achievement from year to year, and a standardized test score cannot predict which child will be bullied, experience divorce, a death in the family, experience depression, unemployment, become homeless, develop an eating disorder, abuse drugs, join a gang, run away from home etc.

Despite it’s constructivist “promise”, the standardized testing regime of the Common Core forces teachers and students to focus on a predetermined and narrow set of measurable skills.

Unfortunately, the Common Core is more concerned with telling students what “college readiness” skills they have yet to master at each grade level, rather than helping every student to discover his or her own unique talents and unleashing the athletic, artistic, musical, creative, emotional, inventive, social, scientific, and vocational skills they do possess.

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