Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Let's Teach to the Test

One of the main reasons I favor more (albeit better) testing is to combat what Howard Fuller calls "happy schools": the principal is happy, the teachers are happy, the parents are happy and the children are happy -- everything's great, except the 4th grade children still can't read!!!!
The Washington Post's Jay Mathews wrote an excellent piece on testing last year:

Conversations about this would go more smoothly if we didn't have such distorted views of what teaching to the test means. We might instead turn the discussion to what methods of instruction work best or how much time our children should spend studying.

In some classes, such as the Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge courses that have become popular in Washington area high schools, the need to prepare for a challenging exam outside of the teacher's control has often produced a remarkable new form of teamwork. Teacher and students work together to beat an exam that requires thought and analysis, not just memorization. If that is teaching to the test, let's have more of it.

Let's Teach to the Test

By Jay Mathews
Monday, February 20, 2006; A21

All signs point to 2006 being a crucial year for testing in America, with the first national results from the new SAT due, as well as significant changes underway in how states use the tests that rate schools under the No Child Left Behind law. If only, then, we could figure out a way to speak clearly to each other about what we think of the many tests our children are taking. Let's start by trying to clarify what I consider the most deceptive phrase in education today: "teaching to the test."

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