As of Saturday, April 20, 2013
© Copyright 2013
Teaching to the test is exactly what you want -- provided what is taught is comprehensive and essential and the test is designed to reveal what the student knows and can do. The problem with high-stakes, end-of-year standardized tests is that they do not reveal what the student can do, and the students' scores have no impact on teaching the students who completed the test. Put another way, if production line auto workers were "tested" like this, then the quality of the drivers in Atlanta would determine the raises of the auto workers.
The problem is that the results of these tests given in the spring don't get back to the classrooms until the fall, and the students who took the test aren't in those classes anymore. Tests should be done early and often so that the student and the teacher know what is OK and what needs work. Just like on the job -- you do your work and are "tested," evaluated, every day. If you "pass," you keep your job, if you "fail," you don't. Testing for those skills and knowledge that are the goals of any element of education or training isn't the problem. Not being able to evaluate student work accurately, frequently and in time to correct any deficiencies is the real problem. Once-a-year, high-stakes tests don't do anything to help public education, but they do distort what goes on in the schools, with no educational benefit.
-- J.J. Hayden