Thursday, June 27, 2013
Standardized test scores lump all children together

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

One of the things that gets lost in the discussions about teacher accountability is the variability in children's learning skills. No two children learn alike. They all have different strengths and weaknesses. Some are visual learners. Some are auditory learners.
I have an example of two children that I sometimes use in my office. One is very smart but he cannot run very fast. He also cannot sing very well. The other child is not as smart. However, he runs very fast and sings very well. I then put these two children in a school where the only subjects are chorus and track. The smart child will have difficulty succeeding in that situation.
Our current demands for standardized test score results do not always take children's differences into account. They lump all children together and expect the same performance.
There is certainly good reason to expect all children to reach a certain level of performance in school. However, it is somewhat unreasonable to expect that level to be too high for their abilities. Not everyone is good in math. Expecting them to do geometry and trigonometry is not fair. Expecting them to balance a checkbook is reasonable. Expecting them to calculate discounts is reasonable. Expecting them to calculate a tip in a restaurant is reasonable. They will not do as well on standardized math testing as their classmates.
There are some individuals who have dyslexia. Expecting them to read complex science textbooks is not reasonable. Expecting them to complete a job application is reasonable. Expecting them to read instructions is reasonable. They will not do as well on standardized reading testing as their classmates.
When I was in the Air Force, I worked at a medical center with six pediatricians. Since I had a particular interest in cardiology, I saw all the patients with cardiac problems. I was not a cardiologist. I followed the patients for their general pediatric care with their cardiologist.
Cardiac problems were more common than things like leukemia. Therefore, they frequently led to patients dying. If you had looked at mortality statistics for the six pediatricians, mine would have been the worst. That was because I took care of the patients most likely to die.
When we look at standardized testing for students, the scores only tell part of the story. We need to take into account the students themselves. Some of them may have other issues that could create problems for them scoring well.
What we do now is focus on them as failures. They know that they do not do as well as their classmates. They can see that they have to go to summer school when classmates do not. They can see that they might need to repeat the school year while their classmates move on.
The message that they receive is that they are in some way defective because of their test scores. They might be a talented artist or very mechanically inclined. They might have athletic skill. However, we do not tend to nurture those skills.
Standardized testing is indeed important. However, we need to take into account the different talents that children have. We need to make sure we allow them to develop those talents. We need to make sure that we do not send them the message that they are failures just because of how they do on standardized tests.

Hitchens joins practice
Nanticoke Health Services welcomes Nurse Practitioner, Donna Hitchens, MSN, FNP-C to the Nanticoke Physician Network and joins Dr. Joseph Kim and Western Sussex Family Medicine at 116 East Front St., Ste. C in Laurel.
Hitchens received her master of science in nursing and post master's certificate of family nurse practitioner from Wilmington University. She has worked at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital for 25 years in various areas including the Medical-Surgical Unit and the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit as an RN and most recently as a corporate/clinical educator.
Hitchens currently serves on the Ethics and Stroke Committees at Nanticoke Health Services. She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

Aquacare offers diabetes program
Aquacare Physical Therapy, with offices located in Lewes, Millville and Milsboro, and Seaford, are pleased to offer a specialized Diabetes Therapy Program.
This program emphasizes a comprehensive treatment strategy to assist patients in the development of an exercise program to prevent and manage diabetes. After an initial evaluation by a physical therapist, patients will be seen for a series of visits addressing various topics.

Managing your diabetes can lower your risk of resulting health issues. Management includes controlling your blood sugar (glucose), lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising. Physical therapists are experts in restoring and improving human motion, and can play an integral role in the management of diabetes by establishing and, as needed, supervising exercise programs and providing treatment of complications. This program is covered by most insurances.
Exercise is an important part of managing diabetes. Regular physical activity can lower your need for medications, reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, and help manage glucose levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days per week.
You should see a physical therapist to help you with physical activity if you have:
  • Pain in your joints or muscles
  • Numbness or tingling in your feet
  • Calluses or sores on your feet
  • Pain or limping with walking
  • Used an assistive device such as a cane or crutches
  • Desire to develop an exercise program
For more information on the specialized services offered for diabetes management at Aquacare Physical Therapy or to schedule a consultation or free screening, call the Seaford office at 536-1774.

Hospice offers Camp New Hope
Delaware Hospice has spaces available at its Camp New Hope, which will be held from Aug. 6-9, at Killens Pond State Park, for children and teens who have suffered the recent loss of a loved one.
Since 1990, Delaware Hospice's New Hope program has offered individual and family grief counseling to more than 1,500 children and adolescents aged 6-17.
The New Hope program, including Camp New Hope, is a free, community outreach program. New Hope supports children referred from the community as well as members of Delaware Hospice families.
Camp New Hope is the annual highlight of the New Hope Program. This inspirational day camp takes place over four days, connecting children in similar age groups in order to help them process their feelings of loss and grief. Many of the children in New Hope have lost a parent, sibling, or grandparent due to illness or sudden death.
Learn more about Camp New Hope by contacting New Hope Coordinator for Kent and Sussex Counties, Robin Murphy at 302-678-4444 or

Hospice 5K Run & Family Fun Walk
Delaware Hospice will celebrate the 5th anniversary of the opening of the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford at its popular 5K Run & Family Fun Walk on Wednesday, July 10.
Registration opens at 5:30 p.m., the race begins at 6:30, and the post-event cookout and party will go on until evening.
Early registrants will pay $18 for individual entries until July 8. After July 18, individual entries are $20. Team rate for a group of four or family rate for a group of four or more from the same household is $50.
Sponsorships are welcome. There will be medals for winners and door prizes for everyone.
For more information, contact Peggy Dolby, assistant director of development, at 856-7717 or

Report sick and dead wild birds
DNREC's Division of Fish and Wildlife Mosquito Control Section is again asking the public's help in monitoring West Nile virus in Delaware by reporting sick or dead wild birds of certain species that may have contracted the virus. West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that rates of considerable concern to the health of humans and unvaccinated horses.
The Mosquito Control Section requests that the public report sick or dead birds of the following species only: crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, and hawks or owls, plus clusters of three or more sick or dead wild birds of any species. Bird specimens should have been dead for less than 24 hours and not appear to have died or been killed by other obvious causes. Sick or dead birds can be reported to the Mosquito Control Section between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling Mosquito Control's field offices in Milford at 422-1512.