Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stayin' Alive: Sing it for CPR!

This is a great story about how music makes sense!

The American Heart Association has been using the original 1977 song from the Bee Gees as an aid people learning CPR. It turns out that the song has 103 beats per minute. The AHA recommends that chest compressions for CPR be given at 100 times per minute.

I usually have to maintain my CPR certification in order to work with certain populations. I have often wondered if I would be able to remember the instructions if the time ever came that I had to perform the life saving procedures. This song is the perfect combination of lyrics and rhythm being key factors for the therapeutic use of music. The AHA even tested their theory about the song by having a small group of medical professionals do CPR while listening to the song. They were reported to do the chest compressions at almost the perfect rate. This same group was then tested to see how they would do without the recorded music, but still singing the song in their heads as they did the chest compressions for CPR. Amazingly, they were able to maintain very similar rates of compression without the recorded music!

The story is here at Fox News.

...Somebody help me, yeah. Stayin' alive!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Side Notes! Sarah Palin: Overture for Special Education

The current presidential election has created a novel situation for those of us who work with kids with special needs. Governor Palin has promised that if she is elected to work with John McCain in the White House, she will be an advocate for families who have children with special needs. As I thought about the possibilities this might present for reform of the special education system, I inevitably considered the TAKS testing that goes on in Texas. This is the Texas Assessment of Skills and Knowledge test that is used to establish minimum standards for passing certain grade levels. The results of the exam are used to meet requirements for the federal guidelines in No Child Left Behind.

I am just an observer of how TAKS testing is implemented, but I may have an idea for Governor Palin and others to consider. I have watched the teachers I work with spend countless hours trying to figure out how to implement TAKS test alternatives for the children in the special education program. The way I understand things, every child has to be tested on subjects and knowledge areas according to their grade level. therefore, special education teachers have to take knowledge questions that would be on the regular TAKS test and break down the questions into fundamental skills that would be necessary to answer the target question. They do this until they get to a level of question that would be possible for a specific student with disabilities to answer with a reasonable degree of success. They do this for every child who has an Individual Education Plan in the grade levels that are testing. This means that every child with special needs ends up with a different test. This makes sense since we are talking about children with Individual Education Plans.

What does not make sense to me is why teachers are spending so much time on making up tests that will be different for every child and turning that in for use with standardized tests as a measure of a school's performance? In talking with professionals in the public education system it seems that before TAKS-alt became the rule, some schools were "hiding" poorly performing students under the special education label so that they did not have to take the test or at least did not have their scores counted toward the school's overall score. Since then, everyone has to take the test regardless of its educational value for the student.

The great education bureaucracy in their wisdom has apparently decided to make everyone take the test so that nobody can hide. I think this is an abrogation of their duties in oversight and now an unfortunate waste of valuable time resource for many of the teachers and students who now have to participate in this TAKS-alt system. I have no idea how scores are reconciled or accounted for in the broad scheme of things or if the scores from TAKS-alt figure into achieving "Exemplary" or "Recognized" status for individual schools and districts. Maybe we can open up a discussion here and find out? My initial thought about the situation is why didn't the people in charge just fire people who were misusing the special education labels? How does it serve the children with special needs to take TAKS or TAKS-alt? I think this has come to pass to satisfy a bureaucratic need instead of an educational need.

The bottom line in my view, is that many of the children in special education are not in school to prepare for college or some kind of career. We are teaching them skills of daily living and preparing them with basic knowledge to live a quality life at whatever level they can attain. Many of the test questions developed for TAKS-alt are about skills and knowledge that would be taught regardless of the existence of the TAKS exam, but the time spent in developing TAKS-alt for every student is misplaced effort. I also must assume that scores from TAKS-alt testing will be statistically meaningless since every test is individualized. There is no way to create a standardized test for special education or compare scores across student results.

I don't know if Sarah Palin will have any way to help bring some sense to the realm of special education, but we can start a conversation and see where it leads. I welcome comments and feedback for this topic. I am not an expert on the law and implementation for No Child Left Behind, but I see its effect in the "trenches" so to speak. For the most part everyone is trying to help the children, but sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees!

**Please see related post: Side Notes! TAKS and Adequate Yearly Progress

Subscribe by email or obtain RSS feed by clicking here:

Amazon orders originating with clicks on any Amazon product link on the site help to benefit Music Makes Sense and its ongoing contribution to the world of music and music therapy. Thank You so much!
Related Posts with Thumbnails