Standardized Testing And STEM Education

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In education system’s efforts to increase STEM education, the resulting de-emphasis on art has been detrimental to students and actually works against the goals of STEM inclusion. According to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, low-income students exposed to art courses during their high school education are significantly more likely to graduate and earn a bachelor’s degree (qtd. in Hawkins). Since higher graduation rates motivated Congress’ support of Pi Day, logically, more credit should be given to the arts, which also achieve their goal of higher graduation rates. On a more personal and individual level, Barbara Benglian, the 2006 Pennsylvania state teacher of the year, states the presence of art can also provide emotional stability to …show more content…
Educators cite that standardized testing has become a threat to art courses because math and reading have been drawing increased focus from school systems (Shaw 21-22). Recently science has also become a new threat since it has been now introduced in standardized testing (STEM Integration 16-19). Since pressure is placed on schools to perform well on standardized tests to prove the caliber of the school, more time and resources have been diverted to subjects, mainly math, reading, and science, which these tests evaluate. For example, in her Philosophy dissertation, Colleen Brennan found studies that showed “in elementary schools, test prep and test taking may well exceed the 26 hours typically devoted to once-a-week visual arts instructions in a year”, which demonstrates the higher priority which schools give to standardized tests over the arts (9). Since STEM compromises two key subjects of standardized tests, the practice of drawing resources to stressed subjects links an emphasis on STEM with a subsequent de-emphasis on art. Public education systems believe they are acting in their own best interest in pursuing STEM because the reputation of the school is so closely tied to student performance on standardized testing. Since the arts are not tested by these exams, schools are less reluctant to appropriate extensive resources from the art departments. The resource most …show more content…
Without art instruction, students may lack necessary experience with visual or auditory facilitated learning to later communicate with visuals like diagrams or audio like language. Karen Hosack Janes, author of Using the Visual Arts for Cross-curricular Teaching and Learning, defends that young children are hard-wired to communicate with visual images since “producing art helps children to explore their ideas in a way that is concrete”, while exploring the arts “helps to expand the imagination and acts as a central stimulus for developing questioning skills” (1). Therefore, it is important to develop visual skills in classroom settings since young students best communicate through visual images. Speaking adolescent’s early language of visual images enables students to make connections to other ways of thinking. For instance, students must understand what quantity looks like before they understand the concept of numbers. Another learned skill associated with art is imagination. STEM courses, at least in the manner they are taught in schools, often deal with concrete things like the number pi, so students need to exercise their imagination elsewhere, such as in the arts classrooms. Imagination is important to develop in the classroom because it forces students “to not only learn and memorize content, but to react to it, interpret it and do something new with it”, actions which

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