Peter Gray’s latest post over at Psychology Today, Be Glad for Our Failure to Catch Up with China in Education, reminds me of this post Jim wrote here back in October. Both make the pretty commonsense point that standardized test scores are probably not a great indicator of, well, maybe anything but standardized test scores. Jim points out that countries with higher test scores have had lower economic success, and Peter Gray adds the little tidbit that even individuals with higher test scores don’t necessarily do better. He writes:
But follow-up studies reveal that test scores don’t predict future success. The high scorers do not achieve beyond their lower-scoring peers once they leave school; in fact, the results of one study suggested that the highest scorers achieved less, on average, than those who scored lower… Because students spend nearly all of their time studying, they have little chance to do anything else. They have little opportunity to be creative, take initiative, or develop physical and social skills.
Of course, here in America, we seem to be spending a lot of energy trying to figure out how to raise our test scores — but maybe, Gray argues, our school system’s best feature is that it’s failing at what it’s trying to.
I would say, well, maybe we could just start trying to do something different.