The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who think that the world can be divided into two kinds of people and those who don’t. No, let me try that again: those who think that everything that matters can be measured, and those who think that what matters most cannot be measured. Count me in the latter group. What matters most is love, friendship, family, imagination, joy….I see no reason to develop measures for those things. And if they were developed, I would doubt their value or accuracy.

But here comes another attempt to measure creativity. This comment was posted by Laura Chapman in response to a discussion of the PISA problem-solving test:

“The PISA examples are math and logic problems. They are not tests of creativity. Look up the tests and informed theoretical work of Joseph W. Getzels and E. Paul Torrance.

“The Torrance tests, available from Scholastic, are most often used to identify children, adults, and “special populations” as gifted. The pictorial and verbal tests measure three strengths in thinking: fluency, flexibility, and originality. In the figural tests, participants create simple drawings and respond to images. Scores are derived from evidence of qualities such as elaboration, expressiveness, storytelling, humor, and fantasy.

“Relatively few people are aware that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a developing a web-based scale for measuring creativity, one of several in the “EdSteps” project—funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and operated by the CCSSO

“EdSteps had a low profile until July, 2010 when Newsweek announced a “The Creativity Crisis,” citing a steady decline in scores on the Torrance Tests of Creativity since 1990. The tests are widely used and respected, in part, because records have been kept on the childhood scores and the later-in-life creative accomplishments of each cohort of test takers since the late 1950s (e.g., citations in art publications, patents and awards, books and articles published).

“In response to inquiries, the CCSSO issued a press release that dismissed the Torrance tests and referred its own work on creativity, emphasizing that EdSteps is a project to “advance creativity to the highest possible international standards, and measure creativity in a way that is situated in a context of actual activity.” Creativity is defined as “the valued uses and outcomes of originality driven by imagination, invention, and curiosity.”

“The Edsteps creativity scale a work-in process. The website solicits work samples on any subject from people of all ages and abilities, “globally”…”in any form, genre, or media”…” “writing, videos, images, charts, or other graphics.” People who visit the site are asked to compare two submissions and decide which is the most “effective” (undefined, but the favorite word of Bill Gates).

“That process is carried out in multiple iterations, by multiple judges, with multiple examples. This process is supposed to result in a scale representing a progression of achievement from novice to expert, without the need for written criteria or explanations.

“The process is not different from a popularity contest, with samples of work identified by age, gender, ability level, geographic region, type of work, and the like.

“I could not discover how the EdSteps addresses this fact: Works created by children can be judged more creative than work produced by well-trained adults (e.g., a quote attributed to Picasso: ”It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child”). I cannot imagine how a single scale of creative achievement can be constructed from an “anything goes” basket of work from around the world, subject to further editing by EdSteps into web-friendly snippets. The release forms for the project are horrific.

“I think this effort is a crock, but I could be wrong. My sources: Bronson, P. & Merryman, A. (2010, July 10). The creativity crisis. Newsweek. Retrieved from .///. Council of Chief State School Officers (2010). CCSSO response to ‘The creativity crisis.’ Press release Retrieved from //// EdSteps. (2010b). February 22). Developing the EdSteps continuum: Report of the EdSteps technical advisory group. Retrieved from // EdSteps. (2011b). Creativity launches. Retrieved from”