Last week, I substituted in a fourth grade classroom on the day a writing prompt was given for statewide standardized testing. I was reminded of the stress and pressure around such testing. Anyone who works in public education knows, test scores are a big deal. Funding is tied to test scores. School performance is tied to test scores. Public perception is tied to test scores.
In schools where test scores are low, the entire focus of the curriculum, staff, and school culture revolves around raising test scores. From intervention-based classes to silly contests, standardized testing becomes an obsession. New research suggests there is a simple way to improve these scores: encourage physical activity!
Natural News reports:
Families often joke about grandparents that walked miles to school (uphill both ways and in five feet of snow in the summer ), but this school commute made them smarter. Researchers found a bike ride or walk to school that was longer than 15 minutes produced higher test scores. It is recommended that children receive one hour of moderate exercise a day for optimum physical and cognitive health.
Safety is often a concern of parents when thinking of their children walking or riding to and from school. Many communities have organized walking school busses to address this issue. Safety in numbers!
Encouraging physical activity should be a goal of education. Perhaps during standardized testing week, schools could give out awards for children that walk or ride to school instead of other silly contests. Even teachers could participate!