We Don’t Need No Age Segregation

open-source teen learning, active learning, teen unschooling,

My teenaged son just spent the day with middle-aged guys he met online.

Let me explain. Before he could drive, my son earned enough money shoveling out horse stalls to buy a 1973 Opel GT. Or what was left of one.

The car sits out back in a dark barn, its classic little outline like a rough sketch waiting for functional automotive details to be filled in again. He is restoring it himself, but not alone. He’s in touch with an online community of automotive enthusiasts from around the world. They eagerly share experiences and resources on forums. They also boast, complain, and talk about their interests just as any friends do.

My son and his father have met some of these folks at auto meets and car shows. When my son discovered an Opel club not far from our family farm he was invited to join. Today he and his older brother drove out for a day-long gathering. Although my boys were the youngest by decades they enjoyed an open-hearted welcome.

Yes, I realize there are significant concerns about teens talking online with adults, let alone meeting them. I try to keep those concerns in perspective. Studies of online behavior by youth indicate the biggest risk they face is peer harassment, not sexual predation. Today’s young people are much more overprotected than previous generations even though violence against kids has markedly decreased and the overall crime rate continues to plummet. Overly cautious, restrictive parenting practices actually inhibit a teen’s growth toward maturity and responsibility. So I watch, ask questions, and recognize that my son benefits from online friends and mentors.

It’s a pivotal coming of age experience to be accepted by elders one admires. Until that time it’s hard to feel like an adult. These experiences are frequently depicted in movies, but children and teens in our culture are almost entirely segregated from meaningful and regular involvement with adults.

These days kids spend their formative years with age mates in day care, school, sports, and other activities. So their adult role models are largely those whose main function is to manage children. This subverts the way youth have learned and matured throughout human history. Children are drawn to watch, imitate, and gain useful skills. They want to see how people they admire handle a crisis, build a business, compose music, repair a car, and fall in love. Separate kids from purposeful, interesting interaction with adults and they have little to guide them other than their peers and the entertainment industry. That’s because our species learns by example. Ask any child development expert, neuroscientist, or great grandparent.

There are plenty of educational initiatives to bridge this gap, particularly for teens. These programs connect students with mentors or bring community members into schools to talk about their careers. While these efforts are admirable, such stopgap measures aren’t the way young people learn best. They need to spend appreciable time with people of all ages—observing, conversing, and taking on responsibility. Real responsibilities, real relationships.

Because my kids are homeschooled they’ve have more opportunities (and a lot more time) to hang out with interesting adults. My daughter volunteers for hours each week alongside a woman who rehabilitates birds of prey. Another of my sons has played bagpipes for years with an 80-something gent who once served as a Pipe Major for Scotland’s Black Watch. The age range of my kids’ friends spans decades. Natural mentors such as these are a rich source of authentic experience. And they’re in every community. It’s not hard to find them.

Along with other homeschooling families, my kids have also taken a close look at the workaday adult world. The owner of a steel drum company explained the history and science of drum-making, talked about the rewards and risks of entrepreneurship, then encouraged us to play the drums displayed there. An engineer took us through his testing facility and showed us how materials are developed for the space program. We’ve spent days with potters, woodworkers, architects, chemists, archeologists, stagehands, chefs, paramedics and others.

People rarely turn us down when we request the chance to learn from them. Perhaps the desire to pass along wisdom and experience to the next generation is encoded in our genes. Age segregation goes both ways–adults are also separated from most youth in our society. After an afternoon together we’ve gotten the same feedback again and again. These adults say they had no idea the work they do would be so interesting to kids. They marvel at the questions asked, observations made, and ideas proffered by youth that the media portrays as disaffected or worse. They shake hands with young people who a few hours ago were strangers and say, “Come back in a few years, I’d like to have you intern here,” or “We could use an engineer who thinks the way you do. Think about going into the field,” or “Thanks for coming. I’ve never had this much fun at work.”

So today my teenaged son hung out with fellow Opel aficionados. They trust he will drive his car out of the dark barn and into the sunlight soon. It will be a shared accomplishment, the kind of thing that happens all the time when young people aren’t separated from the wider community.

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I wrote this piece nearly two years ago for Shareable.com. Since then this son of mine has become a mechanical engineering student at a private college. His fellow classmates brought with them years of advanced placement math and science classes. The advantage he brought? Lots of hands-on experience, an active approach to learning, and insatiable curiosity. He’s at the top of his class.   

Without (or Beyond) College: 22 Tools For Success

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Free to explore options. Image: iateyourbubbles.deviantart.com

What doesn’t add up

It’s easier to teach an old dog new tricks than it is to change old mindsets. Like the one that insists that all the years up to 18 are preparation for college. After that a bachelor’s degree or higher must be obtained because college is THE ONLY route to success.

This dusty way of thinking relies on old figures showing that college leads to high-earning careers. That’s true for people who become doctors, engineers, and lawyers. Oh wait, that’s not so true for lawyers now either. New law school grads can’t find jobs  and their average student debt hovers close to $100, 000.

Equating college with success doesn’t take today’s realities into account. In thirty years the consumer price index has increased two-and-a-half times while the overall price to attend college has risen sixfold.  Today’s students can’t simply work their way through college. This was possible back in 1970.  A student could easily work 14 hours a week at a minimum wage job to pay for an education at a public institution. Today a student would have to work full time at minimum wage, leaving very little time to fit in those classes.

So students go into debt. The average graduate gets a diploma along with more than $25,000 in debt. Payments are expected to begin right after graduation or the student will begin accumulating additional interest as well as penalties and damaged credit. The pressure is on to find a job.

Except the job market sucks. While a greater share of 18- to 24-year-olds are in school than ever before, the employment rate is worse. Half of today’s young college graduates are either jobless or underemployed in positions that don’t require a degree. Since the 2008 recession, the largest job growth has been in the lowest paying jobs. Some of the biggest projected employment openings are in low paying, lower-skilled positions such as home health, waste hauling, and transportation.  The problem isn’t just in the U.S. Twenty-five percent of young people are unemployed in the Middle East and North Africa, more than 50 percent in Greece and Spain.

What does add up

In the real world, grades and tests actually don’t correlate with adult accomplishments.  We know there are fresher, more interesting ways to learn. Our experiences teach us to pursue success on our own terms. That has to do with crafting a life based on our passions, our integrity, and the unique vision each of us brings to the world. That’s true whether we’re lifting a hoe or a conductor’s baton.

The college highway is actually one of many roads to the future. People everywhere are finding ingenious and collaborative ways to flourish, with or without a degree. Here are some of those ways.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Learning Empowerment Tools

1. ZeroTuitionCollege (ZTC)  is an online community of self-directed learners. If that’s not inspiration enough, it offers information for travel, building a portfolio, finding a peer community and much more. ZTC was founded by Blake Boles, author of Better Than College: How to Build a Successful Life Without a Four-Year Degree, a manual with thought-provoking and empowering information on each page.

2. It’s My Life: A Guide To Alternatives After High School is a free e-book put out by the American Friends Service Committee. It includes a rich array of information about apprenticeships, service work, travel learning, and careers both inside and out of the mainstream.

3. EdupunksGuide is the brainchild of Anya Kamenetz, author of the resource-rich book DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education
and a free e-book The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential.  The site provides step-by-step prompts to kick start your DIY education.

4. UnCollege is packed with information and advice, like “How To Learn Anything” (complete with downloadable sheets to write your own personal learning plan). UnCollege was started by Dale J. Stephens, whose book Hacking Your Education will be published next year.

5. Intern Match helps you locate paid and unpaid internships in your area of interest.

6. BackDoorJobs connects you with short-term job adventures around the world.

7. Volunteer Match helps you get experience doing what you care about.

8. Idealist lists all sorts of internships, volunteer opportunities, and jobs.

&&&&

Learning Exchanges

9. Trade School is a barter-based learning space, meaning you don’t have to pay to learn.

10. Citizen Circles are small groups of people who meet to learn together, with an emphasis on collective learning and action. No fee.

11. (un)classes are casual ways to meet and learn from people in your area.

12. Skillshare is like the eBay of local education. You can learn what you want from someone in your community as well as teach others what you know. Fee. 

13. P2PU is a grassroots global community working together to learn by completing tasks and providing feedback. Free.

14. School of Everything, based in theUK, connects those who want to learn with those who can share what they know. Some instructors charge for classes, others do not.

15. FreeSkool is what participants create. Some are informal gatherings to share knowledge, others are networks brimming with activity happening in parks, living rooms, and community centers. All are devoted to learning freely.

&&&&

Collaborative Solutions

16. Share or Die: Voices of the Get Lost Generation in the Age of Crisis is co-written by 20-somethings who are developing collaborative consumption networks and connecting via “lattice” rather than scrambling over each other to climb the corporate ladder. Get this book for free by “paying” with a tweet.

17. Generation Waking Up empowers young people to connect and create a thriving, sustainable world.

18. The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community This book helps people find practical and legal solutions for scaling down their work hours, possessions, and expenses by sharing everything from childcare to cars to living space.

&&&&

Free and Nearly Free College Online

19. Coursera pairs with top universities to offer full courses to a global network of students.

20. Khan Academy has a free and ever growing library of 3,200 videos in the sciences to humanities, along with exercises to help learners practice what they are seeing.

21. University of the People is oriented toward awarding degrees to students all over the world, using online courses and charging only an admission fee. It has accepted 1,500 students from 130 countries

22. Academic Earth offers free online classes using video lectures from leading university professors. It’s possible to sign up to earn an online degree, fee unknown.



The Future Belongs to the Curious from Skillshare on Vimeo.

Better Test Scores Don’t Lead To Success

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We shake our heads at the way standardized testing chews the heart out of real learning.   We know about the zombifying effect on schools, teachers, and kids.

Even in the best districts, the effort to attain those all-important numbers eliminates deeper, richer education. Less stellar districts see their schools under a test-heavy siege, charged with getting results or being taken over. This drive also shapes the kind of material students see, relentlessly preparing them to reach higher for the Almighty Score while giving them little time to build essential traits such as critical thinking, creativity, initiative, and persistence.

Parents and educators alike decry this approach, but it’s seen as a necessary pill to swallow (or actually, to make students swallow) in order to achieve some longer term goal. The goal, policy-makers tell us, is greater success for individual students and greater success in global competitiveness.

Do they have proof that boosting individual as well as overall test scores lead to success on either count?

No.

*

National test scores

We’re told that national test score rankings are vitally important indicators of a country’s future. To improve those rankings, core standards are imposed with more frequent assessments to determine student achievement (meaning more testing, more oversight, more teaching to the test).

But do higher test scores actually make a difference to a nation’s future?

study by Christopher H. Tienken compared results from international mathematics and science tests from a fifty-year period to future economic competitiveness by those countries. Surely it showed that those countries with kids performing best on tests become high performing counties. Actually, no. Across all indicators there was minimal evidence that students’ high test scores produce value for their countries. Tienken concluded that higher student test scores were unrelated to any factors consistently predictive of a developed country’s growth and competitiveness.

In another such analysis, Keith Baker, a former researcher for the U.S. Department of Education, examined achievement studies across the world to see if they reflected the success of participating nations. Using numerous comparisons including national wealth, degree of democracy, economic growth, even happiness, Baker found no association between test scores and the success of advanced countries. Merely average test scores were correlated with successful nations while top test scores were not.

Baker explains, “In short, the higher a nation’s test score 40 years ago, the worse its economic performance…” He goes on to speculate whether testing [or forms of education emphasizing testing] itself may be damaging to a nation’s future.

*

Individual test scores

What about individual success?

Educational reformer Alfie Kohn explains, “Research has repeatedly classified kids on the basis of whether they tend to be deep or shallow thinkers, and, for elementary, middle, and high school students, a positive correlation has been found between shallow thinking and how well kids do on standardized tests. So an individual student’s high test scores are not usually a good sign.”

Why do we push standardized tests it has been demonstrated that the results are counterproductive? We’ve been told this is the price children must pay in order to achieve success. This is profound evidence of societal shallow thinking because the evidence doesn’t stack up.

Studies show that high test scores in school don’t correlate with adult accomplishments  (but do line up with interpersonal immaturity). We’ve known this for a long time. Back in 1985, the research seeking to link academic success with later success was examined. It was appropriated titled, “Do grades and tests predict adult accomplishment?

The conclusion?

Not really.

The criteria for academic success isn’t a direct line to lifetime success. Studies show that grades and test scores do not necessarily correlate to later accomplishment in such areas as social leadership, the arts, or sciences. Grades and tests only do a good job of forecasting how well youth will perform in future grades and tests. They are not good predictors of success in real life problems, relationships, or career advancement.

What can concerned parents do?

Let’s work toward a future where our children have more time to play, to dream, and to love learning.

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CC Flickr photostream of comedy_nose

School ADD Isn’t Homeschool ADD

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Image from W1LL13’s Flickr photostream

I hesitated at the heavy glass doors of my son’s school. I’d cheerfully walked in these doors many times. I volunteered here, served on the PTA board, joked with the principal and teachers, even helped start an annual all-school tradition called Art Day. But now I fought the urge to grab him from his first grade classroom, never to return.

I’d come in that morning hoping to discuss the angry outbursts my son’s teacher directed at several students, including my little boy. But I entered no ordinary meeting. It was an ambush.  Sides had clearly been chosen. The principal, guidance counselor, and my son’s teacher sat in a clump together along one side of the table. Feeling oddly hollow, I pulled out a chair and sat down. Since I led conflict resolution workshops in my working life, I was confident that we could talk over any issues and come to an understanding.

I was wrong.

The counselor read aloud from a list of ADHD behavioral symptoms my son’s teacher had been tracking over the past few weeks. My little boy’s major transgressions were messy work, lack of organization, and distractibility. The teacher nodded with satisfaction and crossed her arms.

No one who spent time with him had ever mentioned ADHD before. I breathed deeply to calm myself. I knew it was best to repeat what I was hearing in order to clarify, but the counselor barreled ahead, saying they had a significant “ADHD population” in the school system who showed excellent results with medication.

After giving the teacher kudos for dealing with a classroom full of children and acknowledging the difficulty of meeting all their needs, I tried to stand up for my child (although I felt like a mother bear defending her cub from nicely dressed predators). I said the behaviors she noted actually seemed normal for a six-year-old boy, after all, children are in the process of maturing and are not naturally inclined to do paperwork. The teacher shook her head and whispered to the principal. The counselor said first grade children have had ample time to adapt to classroom standards.

I asked if any of my son’s behaviors had ever disrupted the class. The teacher didn’t answer the question. Instead she sighed and said, looking at the principal, “I’ve been teaching for 15 years. This doesn’t get better on its own. I’m telling you this child can be helped by medication.”

When I asked about alternatives such as modifying his diet the teacher actually rolled her eyes, saying, “Plenty of parents believe there are all sorts of things they can do on their own. But students on restricted diets don’t fit in too well in the lunchroom.”

There was no real discussion. No chance to bring up her teaching style. No opportunity  for better collaboration between home and school. A conclusion had been reached without consulting me, my husband, or a mental health professional. My son required one vital ingredient in order to flourish in school: pharmaceuticals.

As I stood at the door, my heart pounding in distress, I vowed to solve this problem rationally. I told myself such an approach would help my child and other misunderstood students. I made it all the way to the car without crying.

Over the next few weeks I took my child to all sorts of appointments. A psychologist diagnosed him with ADD (no H). Her report was tucked in a stack of handouts from a national non-profit organization known for its ties to the pharmaceutical industry. An allergist diagnosed our little boy with multiple food allergies including almost every fruit and grain he liked to eat (my research showed that diet can indeed affect behavior even for kids without allergies). A pediatric pulmonologist determined that his asthma was much worse than we’d known. In fact his oxygen intake was so poor the doctor said it was likely our son would change position frequently, lift his arms to expand his lungs, and have trouble concentrating. Right away I started the process of eliminating allergens in his life and following other advice given me by these professionals.

I also read about learning. I began to see childhood learning in a wider way as I studied authors such as Joseph Chilton PearceDavid Elkind , and John Taylor Gatto. I talked to other parents who described managing ADHD using star charts, privilege restriction, close communication with teachers, and immediate consequences for behavior. Many told me their child’s problems got worse during the teen years. Some described sons and daughters they’d “lost” to drug abuse, delinquency, chronic depression and dangerous rage. One woman told me her 14-year-old son was caught dealing. The boy sold amphetamines so strong they were regulated by the Controlled Substance Act—his own prescription for ADHD.

And I spent a lot of time observing my son’s behavior. Yes, he was disorganized with his schoolwork. His room was often a mess too, but only because he had so many interests. I saw no lack of focus as he drew designs for imaginary vehicles, pored over diagrams in adult reference books, or created elaborate make-believe scenarios. I knew that he was easily frustrated by flash cards and timed math tests, methods that did little to advance his understanding. But I also knew that he used math easily for projects such as designing his own models out of scrap wood. And of course he was distractible. He resisted rote tasks as most small children do. Their minds and bodies are naturally inclined toward more engaging ways to advance their natural gifts. Mostly I noticed how cooperative and cheerful he was. He didn’t whine, easily waited for his own turn, and loved to help with chores. As a biased observer I found him to be a marvelous six-year-old.

Resolutely I tried to make school workable. I let the teacher know how my son’s allergies and asthma might impact his classroom abilities. I shared the psychologist’s report. And I tried to explain my son’s stressful home situation. In the past year our family had been victimized by crime, his father had been injured in a car accident and left unable to work, and several other loved ones had been hospitalized. His schoolwork may have reflected a life that suddenly seemed messy and disorganized.

The teacher, however, only told me what my son did wrong. She was particularly incensed that he rushed through his work or left it incomplete, only to spend time cleaning up scraps from the floor. She did not find his efforts helpful. In clipped tones she said, “Each student is supposed to pick up only his or her scraps. Nothing more.”

My son’s backpack sagged each day with 10 or more preprinted and vaguely educational papers, all with fussy instructions.  Cut out the flower on the dotted lines, cut two slits here, color the flower, cut and paste this face on the flower, insert the flower in the two slots, write three sentences about the flower using at least five words from the “st” list.  I’d have been looking for scraps on the floor to clean up too, anything to get away from a day filled with such assignments.

It took almost two years of watching my child try to please his teachers and be himself in two different school systems that were, by necessity, not designed to handle individual differences. His schoolwork habits deteriorated except when the project at hand intrigued him. He appreciated the cheerful demeanor of his third grade teacher even though she told me she didn’t expect much from him until his Iowa Test results came back with overall scores at the 99th percentile.  Then she deemed him an underachiever and pulled his desk next to hers, right in front of the whole class, to make sure he paid attention to his paperwork rather than look out the window or fiddle with odd and ends he’d found. That’s where he stayed.

When he was eight years old I took my children out of school forever.

Homeschooling didn’t “fix” anything for my son, at least right away. I made many of the same mistakes teachers made with him. I enthusiastically offered projects that meant nothing to him, expecting him to sit still and complete them. And I saw the same behaviors his teachers described. My son sat at the kitchen table, a few pages to finish before we headed off to the park or some other adventure. But every day he dropped his pencil so he could climb under the table after it, erased holes in his paper, found a focal spot out the window for his daydreams, complained as if math problems were mental thumbscrews. I used to lie awake at night afraid that he’d never be able to do long division.

Yet every time I stepped back, allowing him to pursue his own interests he picked up complicated concepts beautifully. I watched him design his own rockets. He figured out materials he needed, built them carefully and cheerfully started over with his own carefully considered improvements when he made mistakes. I realized his “problem” was my insistence he learn as I had done—from a static page. Homeschooling showed me that children don’t fare well as passive recipients of education. They want to take part in meaningful activities relevant to their own lives. They develop greater skills by building on their gifts, not focusing on abilities they lack.

The more I stepped back, the more I saw how much my son accomplished when fueled by his own curiosity. This little boy played chess, took apart broken appliances, carefully observed nature, helped on our farm, checked out piles of books at the library each week, memorized the names of historic aircraft and the scientific principles explaining flight, filled notebooks with cartoons and designs—-learning every moment.

Gradually I recognized that he learned in a complex, deeply focused and yes, apparently disorganized manner. It wasn’t the way I’d learned in school but it was the way he learned best. His whole life taught him in ways magnificently and perfectly structured to suit him and him alone. As I relaxed in our homeschooling life he flourished. Sometimes his intense interests fueled busy days. Sometimes it seemed he did very little— those were times that richer wells of understanding developed.

I sank back into worrying about academic topics during his last year at home before college. Although his homeschool years had been filled with a wealth of learning experiences I suddenly worried that he’d done too little writing, not enough math, minimal formal science. My anxiety about his success in college wasn’t helpful, but by then his confidence in himself wasn’t swayed.

His greatest surprise in college has been how disinterested his fellow students are in learning. Now in his sophomore year, my Renaissance man has knowledge and abilities spanning many fields. Of his own volition, he’s writing a scholarly article for a science journal (staying up late tonight to interview a researcher by phone in Chile). Self taught in acoustic design, he created an electronic component for amplifiers that he sells online. He also raises tarantulas, is restoring a vintage car, and plays the bagpipes. He’s still the wonderfully cooperative and cheerful boy I once knew, now with delightfully dry wit.

My son taught me that distractible, messy, disorganized children are perfectly suited to learn in their own way. It was my mistake keeping him in school as long as we did. I’m glad we finally walked away from those doors to enjoy free range learning.

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 Find out more about Free Range Learning here

Emphasis On Testing Cheats Everyone

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SAT language scores aren’t near the levels seen in the early 1970’s.  Some test-takers resort to cheating, most recently seven teens from Great Neck, NY who hired an impersonator to stand in (well, sit in) for them. The company that administers the SAT estimates cheating, mostly by collaboration, occurs in only one-tenth of 1 percent of the 2.25 million students who take the test annually. That seems insignificant, but it underscores a larger problem—our test-obsessed educational system.

E. D. Hirsch Jr., author of The Making of Americans: Democracy and Our Schools wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed that declining verbal scores have to do with enduring school days stripped of “substantial and coherent lessons concerning the human and natural worlds…” He goes on to note,

The most credible analyses have shown that the chief causes were not demographics or TV watching, but vast curricular changes, especially in the critical early grades. In the decades before the Great Verbal Decline, a content-rich elementary school experience evolved into a content-light, skills-based, test-centered approach.

I don’t agree with Hirsch’s basic stance that a core curriculum be taught in every U.S. school but he’s got a point. It’s not a new point. Learning has taken a hit heavy hit from the emphasis on standardized tests. The zombifying effect on schools, teachers and kids brought by high stakes testing isn’t pretty.

Even in the best districts, attaining those all-important numbers eliminates opportunities for innovation and time to work with students’ interests. Less stellar districts see their schools under test-heavy siege charged with getting results or getting eliminated.  This drive also shapes the kind of material students see, relentlessly preparing them to reach higher for the Almighty Score while giving scant attention to more complex yet essential skills for higher learning like critical thinking, creativity, initiative, and persistence.

Why this emphasis on testing? We assume policy-makers know what they’re doing. Surely they haven’t been restructuring education based on bare numbers unless they have substantial proven results. Greater competiveness on the world market or at least greater individual success?

Nope.

Here are some eye-opening facts from my book:

National test scores

It’s widely assumed that national test score rankings are vitally important indicators of a country’s future. To improve those rankings, national core standards are imposed with more frequent assessments to determine student achievement (meaning more testing).

Do test scores actually make a difference to a nation’s future?

Results from international mathematics and science tests from a fifty-year period were compared to future economic competitiveness by those countries in a study by Christopher H. Tienken. Across all indicators he could find minimal evidence that students’ high test scores produce value for their countries. He concluded that higher student test scores were unrelated to any factors consistently predictive of a developed country’s growth and competitiveness.

In another such analysis, Keith Baker, a former researcher for the U.S. Department of Education, examined achievement studies across the world to see if they reflected the success of participating nations. Using numerous comparisons, including national wealth, degree of democracy, economic growth and even happiness, Baker found no association between test scores and the success of advanced countries. Merely average test scores were correlated with successful nations while top test scores were not. Baker explains, “In short, the higher a nation’s test score 40 years ago, the worse its economic performance . . .”   He goes on to speculate whether testing [or forms of education emphasizing testing] itself may be damaging to a nation’s future.

Individual test scores

What about individual success?

Educational reformer Alfie Kohn explains, “Research has repeatedly classified kids on the basis of whether they tend to be deep or shallow thinkers, and, for elementary, middle, and high school students, a positive correlation has been found between shallow thinking and how well kids do on standardized tests. So an individual student’s high test scores are not usually a good sign.”

Why do we push standardized tests if it has been demonstrated that the results are counterproductive? Well, we’ve been told that this is the price children must pay in order to achieve success. This is profound evidence of societal shallow thinking, because the evidence doesn’t stack up.

Research shows that high test scores in school don’t correlate with later accomplishments in adulthood such as career advancement or social leadership.

We’ve known this for a long time. Back in 1985, the research seeking to link academic success with later success was examined. It was appropriated titled “Do grades and tests predict adult accomplishment?

The conclusion?

No.

The criteria for academic success isn’t a direct line to lifetime success. Studies show that grades and test scores do not necessarily correlate to later accomplishments in such areas as social leadership, the arts, or the sciences. Grades and tests only do a good job at predicting how well youth will do in subsequent academic grades and tests. They are not good predictors of success in real-life problem solving or career advancement.

Kids certainly cheat because they haven’t prepared for the test, but they also may cheat because they simply see the whole testing game as a farce.  A survey of 43,000 high school students showed that 59 percent admitted cheating on a test during the past year.

What can we do?

Some of us homeschool.

Some parents submit compelling letters telling schools they will not permit their children to be tested, part of a larger opt out movement.

Some are heartened by the ever-growing list of four year colleges that don’t require the ACT or SAT for admission.

Do you think high-stakes testing cheats our kids?