The following guest post, written by middle school art teacher Chris Grodoski, focuses on the consequences of high stakes testing and his inventive solution to restore the rightful place of creativity in American schools.
20 years ago, I would not have imagined the challenges that face education today. Teachers are viewed as non-experts. Powerful groups make decisions about student learning and financially benefit from these new directions. What is most upsetting is the way students are being forced into route learning and fanatically tested.
The wide-spread mania of standardized testing has minimized opportunities for students to develop creative thinking skills in schools. This has been reported by 81% of elementary teachers, 62% of middle school teachers, and 54% of high school teachers. A narrowing curriculum has minimized instruction that would have otherwise developed creative thinking in students. And yet, 85% of college-educated, employed people report creative thinking as a critical asset for their careers. 99% of school superintendents and 97% of employers view creativity as important in the workplace.
This is a huge disconnect! Socially, we want creative outcomes but nothing we ACTUALLY do in education is moving that way.
As an art educator, one strength of our field lies in fostering creative thinking through learning activities that we determine. Importantly, these learning activities based on our students and their context. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues are being evaluated according to their school’s reading and math scores. According to the Kennedy Center, the percentage of these scores on art educator evaluation runs from 10% to 90%. This is beyond unfair – it is absurd – and needs to be contested.
Some talented educators and I have been considering this problem and how to combat it. We are all practicing educators and realize we cannot adequately advocate from the classroom. We also felt that such advocacy efforts should:
- Demonstrate the value of authentic creative learning in schools in a way that administrators and legislators can value
- Empower teacher expertise in judging student learning, and
- NOT standardize teaching practices.
Last fall, we developed rateCreative as a means to do this. rateCreative offers a means to revalue creative thinking in schools. Our online tools statistically validate creative thinking skills by compiling the expert judgments of teachers.
As an art teacher, I wanted our first audience will be my colleagues, all of whom have been hit the hardest over the last decade.
Although the site has not launched yet, we have put together an introduction for your review and knowledge. Education is big business, but our feeling is that learning and community trump all. As a result, we will need the help and support of art educators in getting the site launched. Our intention is to make it a free resource for educators.
Here’s 4 ways that you can help:
1. Watch our introduction video
2. Like us on Facebook to get updates on our launch
3. If you like what you see, SHARE with others!
4. You can follow us on twitter @ratecreative
If you have any direct questions, please contact us through our website .
We look forward to advancing art education, teacher expertise, and creativity in schools with you!
Chris Grodoski is a Middle School art teacher at Franklin Middle School in Wheaton, IL and has received several awards including the Illinois Art Education Association Middle Level Art Educator of the Year in 2012 and the NAEA Middle Level Art Educator of the Year 2013.