To be honest on music, I think you also know your child is playing the right instrument when they do want to practice. I know that sounds idealistic but they will be much drawn towards that instrument if it’s the one that lights their ‘spark.’ Lily and Clio both do play the violin to a very high level – but as I explain in my book, that doesn’t mean I have had been to be an Amy Chau tiger parent to get to them point. Also music has become a way of life in our house, and they play music together, which helps.
The last, and most common, way of measuring achievement is to use standardized test scores. Purely because they’re standardized, these tests are widely regarded as objective instruments for assessing children’s academic performance. But as I’ve argued elsewhere at some length, there is considerable reason to believe that standardized tests are a poor measure of intellectual proficiency. They are, however, excellent indicators of two things. The first is affluence: Up to 90 percent of the difference in scores among schools, communities, or even states can be accounted for, statistically speaking, without knowing anything about what happened inside the classrooms. All you need are some facts about the average income and education levels of the students’ parents. The second phenomenon that standardized tests measure is how skillful a particular group of students is at taking standardized tests – and, increasingly, how much class time has been given over to preparing them to do just that.