Saturday, May 30, 2015

Individual Factors Affecting Test Scores- They aren't what you think.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
In the winter I noticed there were two maps that I was seeing fairly often from different sources.  I thought everyone else was seeing these same maps as well.  I noticed they could be over laid.  One of the was the map of school ratings based on achievement test scores.  Schools in the North East score consistently higher than every one else.  For years I had simply accepted this as fact.  Then I began to see the other map.

The other map was the map of childhood poverty.  If you would like to read the original I am including a link for you here:  After I displayed the map within a few short weeks 10,000 of you stopped by to visit.  Over the Winter and Spring I explored the connections between childhood poverty and the all powerful test scores that determine whether a poor child get to keep their school or if it will be shut down and given to a charter.
I learned there was more than one factor which profoundly impacted each student's performance on the test.  Teacher factor didn't make the top 5.  The greatest factors seemed to echo Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Children who were not well fed, were ill, had tooth aches or ill fitting shoes under perform their adequately supplied peers.

Conduct a mental experiment with me. If you picture two identical children. One has all of their basic physical needs and another does not. Can you picture them? If everything else is equal the child who is doing without may have other things on their mind other than memorizing the 7's times table.

You can do this with every level of Maslow's Hierarchy.  Consider safety- If a child lives in a neighborhood where their are loud brawls and gun shots, worry and lack of sleep will follow that child to school.  In an area like this, there are some things that are difficult to maintain or obtain, like air conditioning.  If you have an Air conditioner window unit it is likely to be stolen.  if the building has A/C then the unit for the building is subject to damage by desperate people who will steel the copper in the unit for resale.

Nashville decided since we have air conditioned buses we can begin school in August.  This means our students attend school during the hottest period of the year.  If the child does not have air conditioning at home they miss the first several days of school because they cannot get adequate sleep.  They are there is body but not in spirit.

 Is missing this portion of the year relevant?  Only if you are serious about every child's success.

We can see one of the factors that has the greatest impact on children's success is family income level. That is the Maslow's part and you can see it in the Map comparison piece I shared with you earlier.  The other factor is not the teacher or the school.  It is the Educational Level of the Child's Mother.

While we cannot give every impoverished family in America a million dollars We can help with the second.  EDGE-ucational consultants is committed to building the Educational base in families so their children can benefit from the most powerful learning of all, incidental learning.  I'll share more about this in my next post.

Amy Flatt, Educational Maven* for EDGE-ucational Consultants, LLC, specializes in strengthening parents' educational base. Amy is active in scaffolding children's academic success and creativity to fulfill their unique gift through collaboration with families. Children learn at home from their parents each and every day. She believes every child has exceptional aptitude and affinities that need to be uncovered and honed outside regular class time.

Amy has been published in TREND magazine May 2015 and blogs for She has specialized training in Reading Recovery, Graduate Level Mathematics Pedagogy, teaching robotics and Python curriculum for children. Amy has been a guest speaker for PyOhio and The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. She approaches unlocking the talents of families with grace and humor. You can Book Her to Speak or visit her page at

*A maven is a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. The word maven comes from Hebrew, meaning "one who understands", based on an accumulation of knowledge.