Monday, February 20, 2006

What's So Bad About 'Teaching to the Test'?

Let's Teach to the Test

Ever since the words "No Child Left Behind" entered the public consciousness, the rallying cry of the opposition has been that it makes teachers "teach to the test." Umm...that's exactly the point!

The problem that has been going on in this country is the lack of a standard so we can say definitively "This child has sufficiently mastered the material for this grade level and is now ready to move ahead." Instead we've been left with subjective judgements which unfairly favor or disfavor children based on each teacher's individual self-imposed standards. So it is that bad teachers who simply pass students along without teaching have been allowed to remain in the profession. After all, no one could prove they were doing a bad job. It could always be blamed on someone or something else. Not any more...

Now there's a standard to tell us exactly how the school is or is not serving its clientele: the students and their parents. And, not surprisingly, they don't like having their failings held up to the light and exposed for all to see.

If you're teaching children properly, they will pass the tests without special preparation. If a teacher finds him or herself having to make wholesale changes to lesson plans in order to make sure that their students pass the test, then the problem wasn't the test: it was the lesson plan.

No more lesson plans drawn from out of blue by teachers with agendas to cover topics beyond what they're assigned to teach. Too many teachers use their classroom time to force their political agendas onto their students rather than focus on the reading, writing and arithmetic they're being paid to teach. And now they're mad that their attempts at brainwashing are going to be curtailed by being forced to actually teach the required curriculum.

I, for one, couldn't be happier that some standards are being enforced. I'll be happy when it comes down to annual testing and students aren't allowed to progress to the next grade if they don't pass...No exceptions...

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