Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Got Mints?

With all the controversy in Olympia over the future of the math and science WASL, it was refreshing (pun intended) to read in this morning's Washington Post about a new testing aid for students: the mighty peppermint.

According to Lori Aratani's article, "The Power of Peppermint is Put to the Test," educators in one Maryland school district are giving their students a minty pick-me-up to help boost their performance on the Maryland School Assessments, which began this week. And yes, there is data to back this up. Apparently a handful of researchers have found a whiff of the minty extract has helped test takers concentrate and perform better on tasks. One study found that athletes who had a hint of mint also performed better than those who didn't. Similar efforts to boost achievement have been tried with citrus fruits and classroom paint colors.

While fresh breath is a nice benefit from this little psychosomatic ploy, it's a bit of a stretch to correlate higher WASL scores with an Altoid. I suppose anything that helps students relax and feel more confident is a good thing. But it's no substitute for strong building leadership, focused instruction, aligned curriculum and engaged families.

Mint, anyone?

No comments: