Teaching to the Test!

Someone, anyone, whoever…please explain to me why it is wrong to teach to a test. Realizing of course, that one would be hard-pressed to find any sample of ten people who really knew what has become the cliche of the decade actually means. Do you?

An ordinary jaunt to the grocery store for a few items and I happen upon a conversation between three adult ‘scanners’ talking about ‘teaching to the test.’ Moreover, they were griping about how their children were not being taught English, reading, or arithmatic like they did in the ‘old days.’


I found this article just a few days ago in the Christian Science Monitor and I thought what a great way to show folks a concept, albeit, through the words and perceptions of a different educator and writer. Along the way I have contributed various and sundry points of emphasis; however for the larger whole, credit and hat-tip to Walt Gardner.


“If we’re being honest, teaching to the test is done by almost all other effective teachers. In fact, I did so – along with many other an effective educator way before teachers were evaluated on the basis of their students’ ability to perform on the standardized tests that now constitute the sine qua non of accountability.”

Why? Because it is eminently sound pedagogy. Believe it or not there does exist a manner in which human beings learn. A good and well-educated teacher knows about the Dimensions of Learning; furthermore, professional educators know the difference between presenting information and how to present that information to inspire critical thinking and learning.

There is a distinct difference between teaching to the broad body of skills and knowledge that a test represents (good), and teaching to the exact items that will appear on the standardized test (indefensible and illegal). Teaching students how to answer a particular set of items that appears on a test shortchanges them ethically and educationally. The confusing part arises when we fail to make that distinction.

This is a must read! Please click here X.

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