Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ignoring Testing

Some would like teachers, students and parents to pretend the tests don't exist because the best way to get good test scores is to focus on good teaching and real learning.

This is precisely what the policy makers want.

And while it's true that teachers are partially responsible for narrowing and dumbing down the curriculum in response to the tests, the policy makers who create the laws that place inordinate amounts of pressure on teachers to do exactly that are more responsible.

Standardized testing is a cancer.; ignoring cancer and simply living life as if it doesn't exist, rarely yields promising results.


  1. It is a tricky balance though. To do a bit of work to prepare students for what they will see as I feel that knowing what it might look like ahead of time will relieve stress for some and to not let it rule the classroom overall.

  2. Kids aren't standardized; the world isn't static. Curriculum is standardized; the only way to test the knowledge of curriculum is a standardized test. It is clear that curriculum, delivery of curriculum, teaching practice, assessment of learning need to change. Personalized learning, teachers free to decide how they deliver curriculum, assessment FOR learning are what the students deserve, what they need. Transformation can only be achieved incrementally, I fear, because that's how the new paradigm becomes embedded: winning over one heart + one mind at a time.

  3. You're right, Joe. The tests are cancer. However, I believe that ignoring them as much as possible is best. I never mention the test until about a week before it comes.

    We focus on teaching and learning throughout the year. We read daily and write often. The week before the test, I'll show my students some questions from prior years, as Dvora suggests, just so they know what to expect.

    Although I believe the test should be eliminated, my students will perform admirably -- not because we prepare all year for it, but because they learn to read and write well during our year-long reading project, which makes the test easy for them.

  4. We need to work on two tracks: In the short-term, we need to make sure we don't hurt kids - we want them to pass these crappy tests and do well. In the long-term, we need to make damn sure we do something to change the current situation because if we don't, we will condemn our children to the same problems that we refused to address.

    Inside the classroom, the teacher is the number one contributing factor to a child's education; however, when you add all the out-of-classroom factors with those in the classroom, 50-90% of the factors that affect a student's education are out of the teacher's control.

  5. Joe, those stats on your last reply -- about 50-90% of factors affecting a student's education -- I've heard similar stats and a similar premise put forth by Diane Ravich. Do you know what study or paper those came from? I'd love to read the primary source... or at least parts of it.

  6. Keep the whole testing craze light and bright with the students. Tongue in cheek, explain the idea of how shortsighted those who don't know education can be. Build trust and confidence...that will do more than anything to help kids deal with the craziness. Make is as if they are in on the game, along with you, the teacher, and when the big day comes, turn it all over to them. Just like what we do to lend confidence to anyone we can do it. You are prepared. No one is perfect. The scores are just numbers...YOU, students, are valued young people who will grow up to make a difference in this silly world. That's my tack for this springs week from hell. Why not?


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