according to the American Psychological Association, a study of Texas middle school students found that healthy lungs and hearts could “predict” better scores on reading and math tests.

Here’s another — from the UK but in the same vein — touting the conclusion that “daily exercise significantly improves pupils test scores.”

And another finding that integrating arts education into students “regular curriculum showed remarkable improvement on standardized test scores.”

The recent study that raised the most eyebrows, however, was a “working paper” reported by Education Week which revealed that students get better test scores when they are given an incentive up front — “a trophy, $10, or $20 in cash” — with the threat of having the reward taken away should scores turn out to be sub-par. The researchers call their approach “loss aversion.”

Notice the running theme throughout all these — that just about the only indicator of childrens wellbeing that matters anymore is how well they score on standardized tests? Hard to remember now that once upon a time, when Americans talked about children, healthy “hearts and lungs” were thought to be a pretty important condition for their own sake. Yet now that test scores have become the holy grail of education, other really important indicators of childrens wellbeing — their health, their opportunities to learn about the arts, their intrinsic love of learning — seem passé.

It’s important to be reminded that Americans haven’t always thought this way.

Jeff Bryant via