More on Education

Last week, I said that I’m not sure the standardized tests our kids take today help very much, and suggested that maybe we should go on strike – simply not send our kids to school to take them.

Well, today, my daughter started taking hers (no, I didn’t keep her home).  I was surprised to learn that her school (apparently along with many) prohibits students from reading if they finish these tests early.  Evidently, there is some evidence or belief that students will rush through the test in order to get back to their books, and that this will lower scores.

I told her not to worry about it, and assured her that I’ll be OK if I get a phone call from the vice-principal saying, “Sir, we caught your daughter reading in school.”

While we’re on the subject of education, here’s some more interesting reading:

1) How well you do depends largely on how well you think you’re going to do.  Go to article. . .

2) Recess improves grades.  Go to article. . .

The second article is not a surprise.  Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey has done extensive research, some right here in Naperville, on the impact of exercise on mood, attention, cognitive performance and learning (see http://www.johnratey.com/newsite/index.html).  He concludes roughly that:

0.5Hr Serious Exercise = (1Prozac + 1Ritalin + 1Grade Level)

I started paying attention to this a few years ago, when I did some work in the arena of for-profit education.  In addition to exercise, blood-sugar levels also make a difference.  Exercise and breakfast are not substitutes for great teachers, but they matter.  It turns out that if a school wants to increase student performance by a grade level or two, running them ragged for half an hour first thing in the morning, then feeding them a big bowl of oatmeal actually is a good way to start.

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2 Responses to “More on Education”


  1. 1 Tammy November 26, 2009 at 2:59 am

    I’ve been an educator for 25 years and I couldn’t agree more. Teachers end up “teaching to the test” because their jobs are on the line. Skokie has just begun a new salary schedule based on student performance on standardized tests. By putting so much emphasis on the standardized testing, students are not learning how to think creatively. Additionally, there are students that, simply stated, are poor test takers. When my son was in 2nd grade, his IQ was tested and his score was a 135. Not bad. When he was tested again in 6th grade, his score was 112. I asked the school: “How does someone’s intelligence decrease?” I was told that the 2nd grade test was based more on problem solving, while the 6th grade test had math and English instead. Since he has a learning disability, he has become less intelligent? There are many different types of intelligences (Howard Gardner), and in order to best serve our children, we need to develop their individual talents and abilities. I enjoyed reading your Blog on this topic. Keep up the good work!


  1. 1 Perverse Incentives | Carp Diem (Fish of the Day!) Trackback on April 5, 2013 at 9:15 am

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