This Can Raise or Lower Achievement Test Scores

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Obadiah, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. Obadiah

    Obadiah Habitué

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    Yesterday, at the doctor's office, I was browsing through the Sep/Oct issue of Diabetes Forecast. I read an article about recent studies that indicate a correlation between eating green leafy vegetables (and egg yolks) and achievement test scores. Students who ate their veggies tended to achieve higher scores. In a side note, the article also mentioned a correlation between regular physical exercise and test scores.
     
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  3. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

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    Couldn't you tie the same things to socioeconomic status? More likely to have fresh veg, be involved in extracurriculars, etc.
     
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  4. mathmagic

    mathmagic Connoisseur

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    You could tie a lot of things in. Thankfully, they mentioned "correlation" as opposed to "causation". There's a lot of strange things that correlate :)
     
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  5. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Companion

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    As we all know, or should know, correlation does not equal causation. Experiments can only determine cause and effect, not observational studies. Even if there is a 100% correlation between two variables, it does not mean one is caused by the other. There could be lurking variables, like one respondent noted, such as socioeconomic status. Physical exercise also has a positive effect on health and, in particular, brain health, so there certainly could be a link between increased test scores and non-sedentary students.
     
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  6. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

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    So what's the point of mentioning it in the first place? Theres a correlation between being alive and being diagnosed with cancer. Being alive doesn't cause a cancer diagnosis, but the correlation doesn't seem worthy of a magazine article.
     
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  7. mathmagic

    mathmagic Connoisseur

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    While I see your point, I'd imagine because it connects to the underlying issue with poverty and its effect on a child in education.
     
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  8. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Enthusiast

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    Why not just say theres a correlation between being poor and poor performance on assessments? Too offensive? Plus not 100% true.
     
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  9. Obadiah

    Obadiah Habitué

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    I don't recall if the article used the exact word, "correlation", but it was definitely implied as opposed to "causation". The footnotes detailed the journal from which this information was reported.

    What immediately struck me upon reading this and in my mind connecting it with other research that indicates how nutrition and exercise seem to facilitate brain function, it was another example how faulty it is to use test scores as the ultimate test of learning. Many overall factors influence scores.

    If I might dip a bit off subject, while pondering the article, I began to consider the length of many of these achievement tests. I've read on the forum of some tests that are quite the marathon plus the added practice marathon that precedes the test. Neurologically, the brain begins to tire after extensive concentration and a student's performance declines.

    I've observed parental preparation for the tests that also could alter the score. Our school always encouraged the parents to make sure their children had a good breakfast prior to testing. In my area, many parents began work quite early and skipping breakfast was the norm for many families. For some students, that was the first they've eaten breakfast all year, and for some, they had a bigger breakfast than usual. Stomachaches aren't conducive to test score production.

    Other factors include lack of sleep (some students stay up later than I do), the unusual structure or wording of the test, the specific outcomes being tested not matching the student's personal brain development, and other factors that influence scores.

    I've heard the counterpoint mentioned at a workshop, "Not every student has a headache the day of the test!" No, but every student is different, and the current over-focus on a standardized score, from what I've observed, seems to be forcing a factory driven model of schooling, attempting to produce a standard product, rather than meeting each student's unique abilities (notice I purposefully did not say dis-abilities), but meeting each student's unique abilities to learn.

    Here's my fear. What happens to the students who don't fit the mold. Do they become the rejects in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory? Or do we force more standardization in order to further squeeze people into a mold?
     
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  10. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    Oct 9, 2017

    That does not mean the vegetables raise test scores. Correlation is more like circumstance, not cause and effect. It is more likely that children who are eating vegetables are being raised by more nurturing parents, which sure as heck will raise test scores.

    We try to feed the kids in our schools vegetables; they throw them away and concentrate on fats and carbs. It's all in how they are raised.

    Everyone wants an easy fix for bad parenting. Everyone wants to pretend bad parenting isn't the issue needing focus, but that those almighty test scores can be raised with green leafy vegetables, more play time, PBIS, data, technology, accountability, and so on.

    While the ones responsible for ruining their children get a free pass.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
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  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dude, I want to concentrate on fats and carbs, and I have good parents and am kind of smart. :tearsofjoy::tearsofjoy:
     
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  12. Obadiah

    Obadiah Habitué

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    A good point is being raised concerning correlation and causation. I haven't read the official paper on the cited research in Diabetes Forecast, but I'm assuming the researchers observed the results of their investigation scientifically. But it is true, correlation does not prove causation. A more serious aspect to consider in any research is that people are not lab rats in cages. Causation is multifaceted. Studies often try to narrow a cause down to a singular point, which is good, that is how science works, but science also must keep in mind that many forces influence behavior.

    To return to my thoughts above, education is also multifaceted. We do not teach lab rats. We teach students. But...new research is indicating that even educating lab rats is multifaceted, and rats in a cage aren't rats in the wild, either. Students are individuals influenced by a multitude of environmental factors and even genetic factors. It's very possible and probable that diet does influence brain development, and it's also possible and probable that not every student is effected by diet in exactly the same manner. But diet alone does not educate, either. I see I'm going off on rabbit trails, but to try and summarize more concisely, I'm fearful of the current trend to mold students into a single product and then test this product with achievement tests as the ultimate evaluation.

    I'm always resorting to Einstein in my allusions, but he is a prime example of someone who did not fit the mold, and we can be so grateful that he didn't. I've been currently researching students of various learning differences, many who were deemed to be doomed to no success in life, but greatly impacted society. Charles Schwab's dyslexia actually forwarded his career; he feels without the extra brain abilities dyslexics experience, he would not be where he is today. Stephen Cannell was considered lazy by his teachers; they reported he could do the work if only he tried. He, too, was dyslexic and never did learn to spell accurately. He became a famous screenplay writer and an author. Upon reading a brief biography on him, it dawned on me that he wrote himself into his episodes of The Greatest American Hero. When the protagonist received his power suit from the extraterrestrials, he lost the instruction book. How many times have our students with learning differences experienced the same frustration! He figured out how to fly by following a kid's suggestion (cooperative learning) but just barely struggled through it (Stephen wrote, spelling as best as he could, but he became quite successful in his writing), and I noticed several other such coincidences in this series.
     

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