Astronomical spring has been upon us for over a month now. Although, much of North America would argue that it sure hasn’t felt like it with the wintry weather all around. Nevertheless, many of us are experiencing spring or desperately anticipating that feeling. And with spring in the air, it reminds us that it is more than just a season. Spring also embodies a sense of rebirth, of fertility, and of renewal. It also makes us think of spring break and spring fever. Many of our children and students are a little bit squirrely right now. They are eager to be outside and eager for summer vacation right around the corner. Teachers and parents may be feeling the same thing.
Spring is also a popular time for state assessments. Students (and teachers and principals and parents) across the country are feeling the pinch of high-stakes testing. Lots of creative and innovative lessons are on hold with the final push for test preparation. Sadly, despite the best efforts of teachers to make such test preparation fun, exciting, and meaningful – and trust me, teachers are working very hard to make lemonade out of the sour lemons of high-stakes testing – the end result is that they are preparing students for a very uncreative endeavor: bubbling in scantrons with prescribed right and wrong answers. Students often have to try to game the test and place all their emphasis on getting the answer that someone else has deemed to be the right answer – even when many of the questions are rather broad, ambiguous and quite subjective. And, what is saddest of all, all of this pressure to boil a year’s worth of learning and teaching into one number doesn’t actually serve to better students’ learning and growth. Indeed, grades are a far better indicator for future success in college and career than test scores. No, the test scores really serve the interests of the politicians and, of course, of the testing companies who get rich from them.
A Bold Question
What if all the money, time, and energy spent on testing was spent on actually teaching students? The cost of high stakes testing goes beyond paying for the actual tests – which, in itself, is very expensive. But there are evermore related expenses such as the practice tests and test preparation courses and the endless hours of training teachers and staff on simply how to administer the test (not on how to improve teaching and learning). What if all of the bureaucratic positions that revolve solely around testing (like testing coordinators and assessment specialists) were made into more teaching positions? What if all that money, time, and energy were freed up to be spent on actual learning? For starters, the teacher shortage would greatly diminish. And beyond that, I think the possibilities would be endless!
I’ve asked myself this question time and time again while sitting in meetings and trainings that revolve around testing, but not learning. Money and time are very limited resources for schools. So when I see all of the money that schools and districts have to spend to jump through the hoops that politicians create, it is really sickening. And, let me be clear, I’m not blaming the districts or the schools. They are doing all they can to meet the demands the state’s put on them in addition to trying to meet the needs of their students. The sad reality is that public schools are being set up to fail – and this is very likely an intentional set up by those politicians who want to privatize education and help their friends get rich.
But, I digress. I will step off my soap box for a minute as it seems my own spring fever began to run hot. All ranting aside, the beauty of what we have created at Drawn To Discover is an affordable means to circumvent, or at least buffer against, the perils of high stakes testing. Schools can’t be all things to all people. Nor, should they. The lessons at Drawn To Discover can help children build their creativity and build their reading and writing skills. They can do this at their own pace and in a manner that not only prepares them to perform better in school (and on those related tests), but in a manner that is engaging and meaningful to them.
This is precisely why we created Drawn To Discover. It is a way of taking the power back and putting that power in the hands (quite literally) of our children. That is why this program is so exciting to me and to all of us at Drawn To Discover. That is also why you’ll find yourself sharing in that same excitement and joy with your child – the same way thousands of children and parents are already experiencing it.
We hope you will join us as we spring into creativity this season! Together, let’s transform our children’s education!