Teaching to the Test

Katy Golden

ET

Shepard, L., Hanaway, J., & Baker, E, ed.s. (2009). Standards, assessment, and accountability. Education policy white paper. National Aacdemy of Education, Washington, DC. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED531138.pdf

I thought this article brought up a lot of great points because, being in the education world today, you can easily understand how tempting it is to teach based on the standardized tests your students are taking – in my case, those tests are a big part of my evaluation, so it’s important to me that they do well! However, when education policy makers are the ones deciding what’s on the test and how it’s formatted, it often makes it so that what’s being tested – and therefore what’s being taught to – is not useful knowledge nor does it involve 21st century skills, rather being rote question-and-answer trivia. This article discusses the idea of standards-based assessments, and how the accountability to standards creates pressure on teachers to “teach to a test.”

This article discusses the complications of having politically created standards, which can lead to either “overly full, encyclopedic standards” in the case of some states, and “vague, general statements” in others. The authors describe the growing movement to the creation of new standards that distinguish between performance standards and content standards, and recommend that educators be given a voice in determining standards. This was a relief to me to hear, because I’d love to hear more about educators being the ones to decide standards. In my old district, they were just starting to incorporate teachers in the development of district wide tests, and hopefully that trend will continue!



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