“Do you really believe high stakes testing hampers creativity?” challenged a colleague. We had been discussing collegial coaching in anticipation of the webinar, Coaches Connect.  In response to a quote in Naturalizing Digital Immigrants: Collegial Coaching for Technology Integration, my colleague stated the following:

Testing leaves little time for creativity.” – I disagree. I’ve seen many teachers use technology in the classroom and be creative in tested subjects. You can’t place all the blame on the test. I think many people try to use that as an excuse. If a teacher wants to use technology in the classroom, they will – despite the test.

My response to my colleague was, “Yes, absolutely! Who has the time to prepare students to be creative AND be excellent test-takers? And, how engaging can testing be?” 

In the back of my mind, though, was the point that this is why we encourage problem-based/project-based learning (PBL), cooperative learning that engages us socially, writing/reading workshop, and similar inquiry learning, student-centered approaches. We simply hope, in some cases, know based on research, that students will test well when they are taught in these ways.

I have no doubt that students who actively participate in Writing Workshop will transcend the written requirements of any test, will be able to plan their ideas more logically and think more clearly through semantic mapping of concepts for a piece of writing, whether on a test or otherwise. But, back to the question–does high stakes testing hamper creativity in today’s schools?

A quick Google search might provide insights…

But test scores are not measures of entrepreneurship or creativity…what brings great test scores may hamper entrepreneurial qualities. Standardized testing and a focus on rote memorization, for example, are perhaps the biggest enemies of entrepreneurial capability. In doing research for my book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, I found a significant negative relationship between PISA performance and indicators of entrepreneurship.Source: Education Week, DoubleThink: Creativity-Testing Conflict


The current focus on testing in schools, and the idea that there is only one right answer to a question, may be hampering development of creativity among kids, Beghetto said. “There’s not much room for unexpected, novel, divergent thought,” he said.Source: LiveScience, Are Today’s Youth Less Creative and Imaginative?


People with text anxiety are usually conscientious students who work hard and have high expectations of themselves. The condition may begin with inadequate performance on a particular test, which then creates a general fear of the testing situation that hampers future performance, creating a vicious cycle of anxiety and low scores. Very creative students may develop test anxiety when unorthodox responses to questions result in low grades that make them question their own abilities and intelligence.
Source: Psychology Encyclopedia, Test Anxiety


Even the Chinese agree…and they should know, right, given their fixation with testing?

The ministry said the systemic fixation with testing “severely hampers student development as a whole person, stunts their healthy growth, and limits opportunities to cultivate social responsibilities, creative spirit, and practical abilities in students.”
Source: New York Times


Basic psychological research suggests that “purely informational uses of test results may be more effective than incentives that attach explicit consequences to those results,” the panel wrote.
The panel said attaching incentives or punishments (“high stakes”) to test scores pushes teachers to focus on the material that is tested, and leads them to leave out material or entire subjects that are not tested. “Current tests do not measure such important characteristics as creativity, curiosity, persistence, values, collaboration, and socialization,” they pointed out.
Source: NEA Today


So, are you convinced? Does high stakes testing hamper creativity in our students?

Image Source: http://gettingsmart.com/2014/08/mooc-series-designed-just-k-12-education/

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure