Hey Gilroy, Want Better SAT Scores? Then Insist on More Music and Art Classes

Dear Editor,
I am a teacher in Gilroy, and while I normally do not publicly
share my political views, I must say that I was so discouraged by
reading the letter published on Oct, 8 regarding Proposition 74,
and low SAT scores, I felt I had to write.
Dear Editor,

I am a teacher in Gilroy, and while I normally do not publicly share my political views, I must say that I was so discouraged by reading the letter published on Oct, 8 regarding Proposition 74, and low SAT scores, I felt I had to write.

First, let me say, I understand the frustration of parents regarding SATs. I have taught long enough to understand the real life pressures put on students everyday. As an educator, it is our job to prepare your children for these standardized tests. I think most of us work very hard to do so. No one would go into education if they did not truly love the kids, and want to improve their quality of life. I invite anyone to teach for a week if they don’t believe that. It’s a very challenging profession.

Of course, there are some teachers who are better than others, but that is true of any profession. What I have observed in my seven years of teaching is this; new teachers are enthusiastic, excited, and really glad to be in such a rewarding and challenging profession. They take their work home with them, they come early and they stay late. They WANT to be here, and they work very hard. So if a teacher is tenured in three years or five years, will it really make a difference? My opinion is no.

If an administrator can’t decide if a teacher is effective in the classroom in three years, then we have bigger problems than just “bad teachers.” I don’t care what political orientation you are, changing teacher tenure is not going to improve your child’s SAT scores. But there is one change that will, and there is a ton of research to prove it.

How about more ART and more MUSIC? These are typically the first programs to be cut in a school. The minute the budget gets tight like it is now – drama, art and music are cut.

The people that make the SAT test say this: “Students of the arts continue to outperform their non-arts peers on the SAT, according to reports by the College Entrance Examination Board. In 2004, SAT takers with coursework/experience in music performance scored 57 points higher on the verbal portion of the test and 40 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework or experience in the arts. Scores for those with coursework in music appreciation were 63 points higher on the verbal and 41 points higher on the math portion. “

In 2002, the mean for students who took an art class consistently scored above 500 on the verbal and the math, while students with no art classes scored below 500. What does this tell us? The more arts classes your child’s school has, the more likely he or she is to score above 500 on each portion of the SAT. How many of your children’s schools have an art teacher? A music teacher? A drama teacher? How often do they go? If you want to improve your child’s education, improve arts in our schools.

Amber Woodward, Gilroy

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