Monday, September 7, 2009

Testing Young Children

A fascinating and important new book, Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, explores common assumptions about children and the science that shows that many of these assumptions lack validity.

Hopefully, their work will raise everyone’s awareness about the limitations of standardized cognitive and academic “testing” particularly with regard to young children. In fact, for decades, the limitations of these instruments in identifying short-term educational needs and predicting long-term outcomes have been well-documented.

As we learn more about neuroplasticity, resiliency, and brain development throughout childhood and life, the assessment landscape will undoubtedly change. While this knowledge may not offer immediate comfort to parents frustrated by their children’s rejection from a selective school or competitive program, it is my hope that it will help them temper their disappointment with a broader, long-term perspective of their children’s futures. Having worked with many parents who are devastated by disappointing results on early testing, like the ubiquitous ERB’s, it is my hope that this book and the conversations it generates will offer reassurance that all is not lost.