The Creativity Index: Assessing Innovative Thinking in Students

February 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm 1 comment

By Rabin Nickens ‘03

A recent article in Education Week by Erik W. Robelen explores how some states want to develop a tool to assess how well schools foster creativity and innovative thinking in their students.

The idea of a “creativity index” may give hope to arts education advocates because it implies that school districts will be concerned with more than just test data, and hopefully feel compelled to focus on how well they develop the whole child through creative, aesthetic means, while also providing a variety of authentic ways for a child to demonstrate aptitude in a skill or content area knowledge.

Sounds great in theory, but even Robelen points out that there would be concerns in regards to how it’s done:

“Many advocates acknowledge the challenges of creating an index that doesn’t turn into a mere checklist or become viewed as punitive.”

A good start would be to look at some of the best public schools in the country (as determined by the teachers, parents and students in that community), then ask the following questions:

  1. To what extent are the arts integrated into the daily curriculum (not only as an “extracurricular” or after school option) and how?
  2. What effect do the arts have on student achievement (and by achievement, I mean both academic, social-emotional development, and critical thinking skills)?
  3. What kind of personnel, protocols, resources and support for the arts are in place in those schools, and what would be necessary to replicate these elements in another school?

Of course, the arts are not the only way to nurture innovation. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing classroom and STEM teachers who do wonders with often dry, textbook-based curriculum and make their classrooms havens for new ideas and exploring real-world problems. However, if the answers to the aforementioned questions are key factors in the making of a creativity index, then it’s more likely that the arts will be considered essential to any school that’s serious about developing the great thinkers of today and tomorrow.

Rabin Nickens, M.S. Ed is the author of The Playmaking Way: Using Dramatic Arts to Support Young Readers and Writers (Third Power Publishing). Rabin can be found on Twitter at @RabinNickens or her education and arts blog

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jim Clay  |  March 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks, Rabin. Many people need to weigh in on this and let folks know how important it is and how important it is to do it right. Jim

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Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

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