Test Preparation and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking

Test preparation is a hot topic with teachers and parents because the costs of student failure seem huge. So it seems to be a good time to write about test preparation and our Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) ­– Thinking Creatively with Pictures and Thinking Creatively with Words.

The immediate question is – should we prepare students to take a creativity test? The author of the TTCT, Dr. E. Paul Torrance, believed the answer was no because test prep may help students achieve entrance into a creative class or gifted program, but preparation could not increase a student’s creativity or determine how creative they can be.

We also believe that students should not be “prepped” prior to taking the TTCT for three reasons.

(1) One of the features of test preparation is that students often learn about how to take a test without increasing their ability to master test content. As a result, students who participated in test prep courses might receive spuriously high test scores that will cause them to be misplaced in a program for which they are not well-suited.

(2) The TTCT is a standardized test. Standardized test situations are prescribed so that all students taking the tests have the same opportunity. In other words, all students should be seeing the test for the first time, and they should all be prepared to do their best without any extra pretest help. On the TTCT, “doing their best” requires focusing on showing the examiner something creative that has never been seen or thought of before. When standardized testing is completed, prescriptive and diagnostic teaching should be used as a means to follow-up with students. In fact, we believe that any standardized test scores should be followed up with explanation and more directed teaching.

(3) When people ask us for test prep materials, we suggest that students and parents review the student’s current test scores and identify areas for improvement. Based on this review, students can focus on acquiring educational materials that will help them succeed in areas where they currently struggle. This kind of preparation will help students become better students not just better test-takers.

For more information on the TTCT, visit our website www.ststesting.com.


Related:

Books by E. Paul Torrance and Torrance Scholars

Comic Books as a Writing Tool?

Why do a great number of students have trouble writing words on the page? Is it a problem with language, underdeveloped literacy skills, or just a reluctance to write?  To counter these difficulties, some educators are using the art of comic books to give young authors a creative new way to dive into literacy learning.

Although generations of kids grew up with the impression that comic books don’t make the grade with parents and teachers, comic books are gaining new-found respectability in the learning community.  Increasingly popular creative programs boost kids’ literacy skills and self-esteem through the creation of their own fantasy-based characters and comic books. Kids love comic books and superheroes, and educators are exploiting the genre to teach literacy skills with material that students are fully invested in.

Arts-based literacy and learning programs such as the Comic Book Project are allowing students to create, develop, and publish their own comic books. The 12 Comics Learning Support program offers literacy services to organizations through creation of comic books and short films to support development of literacy, math, science, history, and oral communication skills. These thoughtfully designed programs are fine examples of using an art-based genre as the common tool to spark a child’s creativity while enhancing their learning potential.

Other organizations like 826NYC offer support to students with their writing skills by providing free tutoring and after school workshops in their writing center.  826NYC is also home to the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, where 100% of the proceeds from the sale of capes, x-ray glasses and crime fighting novelties goes directly back to funding 826NYC educational programs.

Click the image to view a short video about 826NYC hosted on MSNBC.com.

Through these new visionary programs, educators have taken notice of the vital benefits an arts-based literacy and learning program can provide.  Do you think comic books and superheroes have a place in the classroom?

Comments from our Colleagues – Creativity Crisis

We welcome and encourage comments from educators who have something to share about the recent Newsweek article, The Creativity Crisis.

Comments are moderated by our editorial staff and will be published soon after you submit. Be sure to include links to related sites.

Thank you,

Scholastic Testing Service, Inc.

Click on the comments link below to read the following comments from:

Dr. Donald Treffinger, Center for Creative Learning

Dr. Scott Isaksen, President and CEO of The Creative Problem Solving Group

Phyllis Stenerson, Paideia LLC, ProgressiveValues.org

NurtureShock – Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

Should parenting come naturally for most of us who are in the thick of it? Your instincts may be telling you that love and support is all that is needed to help your child succeed. You may also want to consider a different, research based perspective on this topic. Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman discuss their parenting research on their NutureShock blog.

The blog also features a new Newsweek article exploring the science of creativity. Visit this link to read more and participate in their creativity tasks partly inspired by the STS’ Torrance® Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT).

To explore more about “the father of creativity”, visit this link E. Paul Torrance at STS’ dedicated Torrance website.

Learning how to “H.E.L.P.” your gifted students

How do you advocate for gifted learners? Many perceive advocacy as a political process by which individuals and small groups plead their cause to government officials and policy makers. However, advocacy may also be as simple as effectively communicating a child’s educational needs. Nurturing a child’s giftedness requires a cooperative relationship between home and school, which is characterized by the sharing of ideas and observations about the child involved.

The acronym H.E.L.P., or Honor Each Learner’s Potential, is one way of defining advocacy. Applying the H.E.L.P. strategy to gifted learning allows parents, teachers, and administrators to understand, participate, and account for the implementation and growth of program plans to identify and serve gifted children.

For example, we had a recent discussion with a gifted coordinator, who was concerned that children’s creative performance on the Torrance® Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) varied greatly from fall to spring. Student creativity was much more evident in the fall, and by spring the creativity seemed nearly gone. She channeled that concern into “H.E.L.P.” action steps, and assisted classroom teachers to identify each child’s creative gifts. This enabled teachers to develop creativity further by including a creative strand in each lesson plan across curricular lines. Honoring each student’s gift within their lesson plans, also enabled teachers to assist in maintaining creative skills and constructs while simultaneously developing reading and math skills – in kindergarten and each grade thereafter.

So how can you become an advocate for each learner’s potential?

  1. Identify what the child’s gifts may be.
  2. Locate lessons, which take into account the children’s gifts, and enable them to be further developed. E. Paul Torrance always suggested that we should identify our gifts and pursue them with intensity – not identify our weaknesses and dislikes and have them force fed to us.
  3. Review the Manifesto for Children by Torrance. The manifesto emphasizes doing what we love, and going our own way (considering different learning styles). Going our own way includes refusing to play by the rules/regulations of others. Students should be encouraged to find out how to solve the problem, instead of “feeding the children the fish” of a single way to problem solving. Advocates should teach children to find their own solution and become successful fishers for knowledge.
  4. Assist children and their parents through special programs for them. Allow children to grow into their gifts. Enable them to find and pursue their interests. Give guidance as helpful and appropriate.
  5. Visit classrooms as appropriate and learn what goes on there. Verify what children say at home about their various school settings.
  6. Volunteer to help in classrooms on special occasions and for field trips as possible.
  7. Become familiar with student’s teachers by visiting class or becoming an email buddy of the teachers. Learn how well children are doing and learn how to “H.E.L.P.” children outside of school.
  8. Enable children to pursue their interests. Not your interests, but theirs. This will show children that their interests and pursuits are important.
  9. Work with children in a positive, encouraging manner.

Effective H.E.L.P. advocacy places an emphasis on allowing gifted children to develop their own potential, and promotes the benefits that gifted education has upon the community. Appropriate education for all students offers incalculable short and long term benefits to society. Gifted curriculum is not designed to give talented students an advantage, but to provide an equal opportunity to develop their skills and potential for success.

Torrance – The Power of Creativity

Garnet W. Millar’s book presents the results of the 50-year follow-up to the Torrance Longitudinal Study of Creative Behavior first conducted by E. Paul Torrance. How well did Torrance’s original study predict their creative potential, successes and failures? Dr. Millar’s research answers this question and shares invaluable insights revealed by the follow-up participants which are both thought provoking and stunning.

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