When did “teaching to the test” become a negative?

March 19th, 2007

I’m sick of hearing people criticize standards and measurements in public education by dismissively saying, viagra canada here “that just leads to teaching to the test.”

So?

Car guys sell towards the sale.

Laywers work to the verdict.

Sports teams play to win.

Every human activity has a goal and a way of measuring success.

Testing has always been the way we measure success in education.

(I’m sure I’m not the only person to remember hearing a student ask their teacher “will this be on the test?”)

If a test is structured to measure the things we think kids should learn than what’s wrong with teaching to the test?

After all, best viagra unhealthy what’s the alternative? Teaching to the teacher’s subjective judgement? Why do we think that would be more fair or effective than teaching to a standardized test?

Entry Filed under: Observations

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. triticale  |  March 19th, 2007 at 9:55 am

    The problem comes when teachers aim not at the curriculum of the test, but to the superficial details. The clincher on our decision to home educate our son came when he was five. We were out with my MIL, a stereotypically awful government school teacher, and he asked me what time it was. When I said “A quarter of 3:00” I was informed I should have told him “2:45: because that’s the way they tell time on the standardized test.

  • 2. John Michlig  |  March 21st, 2007 at 10:27 am

    “Lawyers work to the verdict.”

    And it reflects well on them, right? As the Bard said, “First, we kill all the lawyers…”

    “Car guys sell towards the sale.”

    See above.

    “Sports teams play to win.”

    And that ethos, though valuable during the actual season and game (and for which I’m thankful when #4 is out there slinging it), creates some interesting post-career angst for those who are accustomed to simply playing to win.

    “Every human activity has a goal and a way of measuring success.”

    Hmmmm …. But the measurement is generally not a number that is then fed into a computer.

    “(I‚Äôm sure I‚Äôm not the only person to remember hearing a student ask their teacher ‚Äúwill this be on the test?‚Äù)”

    Am I the only guy who saw that as a clear sign of laziness?) I was usually the guy asking “will this be on the test,” of course….)

    “If a test is structured to measure the things we think kids should learn than what‚Äôs wrong with teaching to the test?”

    Unfortunately, the nature of “testing” is such that you do much less to measure overall comprehension than you do to reward rote memory skills. Great memory = intelligence? Maybe not.

    “Testing has always been the way we measure success in education.”

    That’s nothing to be proud of, as it is a poor measure indeed in a high percentage of students.

    Our very own prez didn’t test well, and he is evidently a success.

    “After all, what‚Äôs the alternative? Teaching to the teacher‚Äôs subjective judgement? Why do we think that would be more fair or effective than teaching to a standardized test?”

    That sort of invalidates the terms of the debate. The question is whether the results of standardized tests should weigh so heavily in school funding decisions, no? If the standardized tests – which are of questionable quality – weren’t so important to a school’s financial future, teachers wouldn’t be forced to “reach to the test.”

  • 3. Administrator  |  March 21st, 2007 at 10:38 am

    Hi John,

    I didn’t see where you provided an alternative to testing as a measurement of progress in schools effectiveness.

    We can’t compare methods until you present one.

    Until you do, I have to assume you are basically arguing that schools and teachers shouldn’t be measured and thus held accountable at all.

  • 4. John Michlig  |  March 21st, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    First, the grain of salt: My wife is a teacher.

    That said, I’m against a system that creates the “teach for the test” situation. It’s fairly one-dimensional and can be punched full of holes – – – as can most of the favored alternatives, of course. I’d prefer one of the “less hole-riddled” alternatives.

    It may just come down to how harmful one believes test-based teaching is – – meaning creating lessons and a curriculum that directly targets a successful test rather than successful life.

    Teaching for the test is superficial. As superfical as this quote:

    “I’ve heard people say you’re teaching the test; if you teach a child to read, they’ll pass the test.” George W. Bush

    That’s brilliantly absurd in an almost Yogi Berra way ….

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Being in a wheelchair gives you a unique perspective on the world. This blog features many of my views on politics, art, science, and entertainment. My name is Elliot Stearns. More...

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