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What's so bad about teaching to the test?

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By GreatSchools Staff

When there isn't alignment, there are problems

Problems arise when the state test is not aligned with the standards. Students are then tested on skills that may not be part of the curriculum and schools feel pressure to have their students perform well on state tests because these results are published in the local newspapers. Test prep then means taking time away from the standards-based curriculum to teach test items and test-taking skills. Howard Everson, formerly with the College Board and currently professor of psychometrics at Fordham University, sees problems with these non-aligned state tests: "Many of the large-scale assessments (state tests) are too far removed from curriculum and instruction. They don't provide enough information back to the classroom. And the state agencies are not quite sure how to deal with the problem.

"They're reliant on testing contractors and restrained by budget. It's expensive to align testing with curriculum and they are not willing to make the investment. They want something cheap, which is not necessarily good. They cut and paste parts of tests used in other states. To create good tests, they need to involve teachers and give them release time from the classroom to help create tests, and that becomes very expensive for states to do that properly."

Test results alone don't tell the whole story, notes Raymond. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district, they are looking at quantitative measures (the test scores) and qualitative measures (attendance, writing assessments, literacy-building activities across the curriculum) to see how schools and students are performing. "We're trying to dig deeper," he says.

Where does teaching critical thinking fit in?

Some teachers feel that the emphasis on testing takes away time from teaching critical thinking and problem solving. Steven Weinberg, a teacher on special assignment in Oakland, California, where a major part of his job is "helping teachers teach to the test," says: "The trouble with teaching to the test is that the standardized tests are not by their nature able to measure meaningful learning and emphasize the trivial rather than the essential.

"Take, for example, writing. Instead of measuring how well students can express themselves clearly, the tests ask students to select the best wording from four choices, often written about a topic that the students are not familiar with. As teachers prepare students for this kind of test, they are encouraged to forego having students actually write compositions, in favor of practicing multiple-choice test prep. In history, the emphasis is on specific facts rather than historical understanding. In math and science deep understanding is sacrificed for coverage."

But middle school teacher Matera has his own view on teaching, testing and critical thinking: "I am pushing my students all the time to do critical thinking. Critical thinking requires that you are able to use certain strategies on tests. In order to do reading comprehension, you need to do critical thinking. It's part of a good instructional program and a good instructional program will prepare students to do well on tests."

Comments from readers

"As a high school English teacher for 20 years, H.S. Principal for 11, and university associate professor for 7, I have found that teaching to the test, an unavoidable consequence of NCLB, has a distinct negative impact upon learning which impacts students at the college level. Literature has been reduced to terms and regurgitation of ‘correct’ responses. Atticus Finch is a Southern lawyer. To Kill a Mockingbird is a book title. Social Studies & History makes Alex Trabeck squeal with excitement. and re At the college & university level, students have to be trained, trained, and retrained to provide responses supported by textual evidence. They are not accustomed to formulating and presenting logical and sequencial arguments or refuting positions held by others. It is easy to spot students from private or high schools parochial where teaching to the test is not a survival mandate. NCLB has significantly damaged the learning environment, reduced the quality of teaching, teachers, and teacher preparation. It has engendered survival ‘cheating’ in to classrooms and whole schools. The last decade has been a sad era of our national education. There is no evidence that things will change certainly not under a Romney presidency. "
"As a college professor for the past seven years teaching, business, management, and marketing courses, I recently stopped testing completely. I now prescribe "situational analysis" by using case studies to prompt students to solve problems - real world problems. While I cannot argue with the competencies that test preparation constitutes, I can tell you that I have never taken a standardized test at work. I did not need to memorize world capitals, recite any British literature, or dissect a frog. I did not have to memorize prepositions or decipher the difference between subjects and predicates or color a project on the cycle of rocks. I can certainly tell you that the words photosynthesis and parallelogram have not been spoken either. If a K-12 education is prepare young people for adulthood and/or careers, why aren't they taught to make informed decisions conducive to adulthood: Budgeting, Finance, Ethics, Social & Emotional Competencies, Relationship Management, Conflict Resolution, Parenting, Marriage, Heath, Accountability? This commentary is not an attack on public education - its the truth - the aforementioned subject matter is not taught nor discussed on an applicable stage, yet Math and Science remain the top categorizes that measures success. After being a part of the development of over 1000 young people, I am committed to having them practice solving likely problems they will potentially face and furthermore demonstrate the wherewithal to speak intelligently about the subject matter for the course. While I feel that there is a concerted effort on the part of educators all around the Unites States to help our young people, my hope is that we can generate better decision makers and less memorization experts. "
"As a parent with a student in public school, I would like to think that my son is getting a well rounded education, one that makes him as capable of getting into the same college as students graduating from private schools. Unfortunately, he is being taught ONLY what he needs to pass the state tests each year, and he is having his arts rotation classes taken away from him so that they (the arts teachers) can reinforce the same content that the reading and math teachers are already pounding into his head. Im sorry, but he is going to end up FAR, FAR behind others graduating from private schools and the like, where they are not held to teach to the test. It is a SHAME that education in our country has come to this. There is more to life than learning how to test, the very basic information on the test, and how to answer written responses in one very specific way. I hope our kids don't hold this against us later in life when they are TOTALLY incompetent in the global market bec! ause they cant answer a question with a response other than bubbling in a sheet and choosing A, B, C, or D. "
"When I finished reading this article, I reviewed many of the following comments. A great majority felt that teaching to the test created a situation that harmed children's opportunity to learn valuable, not-currently-tested subjects. Others expressed a belief that test-taking and the accompanying strategies are both essential and a way to quantitatively measure successful learning and teaching strategies. I can see both points of view, and I believe that this is not an easily solved question. However, what I found most distressing while reading the responses was the quality of the writing. Many responding claimed that the curricula of past generations far exceeded today's. They also claimed to have received a quality of education that exceeded what is offered today, yet I saw a multitude of writing errors - grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, organization of content - that argues against those statements. I have conversed with many university instructors who complain that the students entering these institutions come ill-equipped to function in higher education. They have not acquired the skills and strategies needed, for example, lacking basic writing skills. The drop-out rate is high across the nation is evidence of this statement. I understand that teaching to the test may seem limiting to some, but I agree with Matera that this idea is not necessarily the reality. I believe that if what is being taught and how it is being taught helps students to gain the skills and learn the strategies necessary to enter college/university or the workforce with these same skills and strategies that are needed to succeed, then we have nothing to complain about. Better yet, lets explore ways to improve upon a method that seems to offer some solutions. "
"Teaching to the test has meant that sixth graders are involved with probability and statistics terms and ideas instead of concentrating on number trees, percentages, even basic times table memorization. Ignoring these essential math skills will necessarily leave the student struggling in math. I have found that a high percentage of elementary teachers do not have a firm grasp on math subjects. This lack of understanding, on behalf of elementary teachers, is of great concern to me and I believe a math proficiency test is in order for anybody who deems themselves worthy to teach these children. Parents should also be able to interview the teacher that is going to spend an entire year with their child. It is nothing more than a pure power play that you will not allow the interview process to take place for each family who makes this request. "
"Some people fool others by saying "tests are not educating our children", they are studying hard to go to best colleges while you are still trying to understand the concept of testing. Stop questioning this and make your kids study hard for ACT/ SAT. "
"After hearing lots of bad press about the VA SOLs (Standards of Learning tests) I decided to look up some of the old tests that are online. I have to say I was relieved and impressed. They seem very well done, sensible, very appropriate for the grade level, and not too easy. If they're teaching to that test, I'm totally in support of it!"
"American public schools were having great difficulty if producing well educated graduates well before 'No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Since NCLB, teaching to the test methodology has given the public a false sense comfort in believing that progress is being made, since critical thinking skills as well as arts and exercise is marginalized. In addition school lunches are not nutritious which leads to student overweight and inability to focus properly. The new initiatives by the Federal Government to rectify this situation by requiring teachers to be compensated according to the results their students achieve is not popular with teacher's unions nationally. If students are most important in this debate, then any teacher who resists student grade improvements being tied to their teaching skills; clearly does not have the students best interest at heart. They need to find another profession that is more in alignment with their interests, because all they are now doing is stifling the education of our youth. America cannot afford this, especially since many other foreign countries are holding their youth to much higher standards in education. If we are going to regain our status in the world at large, we need to come to our senses - quickly - before we lose another generation. "
"Whenever people that have nothing to do with education start telling teachers how to teach, we get in trouble. Teaching to take tests is not all bad, except that it takes away basic subjects that we used to get in school. We took Biology, typing, history, and many other subjects that gave us a broad idea of what we would get into later in life. Now, teaching for tests have lost touch with basics. We learned how to read, how to write, what our fore fathers did and what history was all about. Students were prepared for about all fields when they graduated. Now we have computers, cell phones, etc... Students do not know how to go to the library and find information, they look it up on the computer. They cannot do simple math without electronic devices, if the power goes off they cannot add, mulitply, subtract or solve simply math in their heads. We are losing minds to electonics. Let's go back to the old basics and stop teaching so that they can pass tests. If they are taught properly in school, they will pass all test easier. Repectfuloly, Ron "
"These test are ruining our children!!! They are producing stress,anxiety,frustration and obesity. This is happening from the heads of dept's down to the kids. You wonder why there has been such an influx of children on medication. Boy's are still the same boy's as years past. Now so many restrictions are put on them from not getting enough of a physical outlet. Girls as well, their creativity is being stifiled. These children can't even talk during lunch. Our children, and I say it like that because even if it isn't directly your child then it's your neighbor, or a classmate. They are being diagnosed with ADHD, to anxiety and depression along with other health issues. Our children are also emotionally eating, and are becoming more and more unmotivated and the lack of activity in their schedules is decreasing daily. In Norway the children learn math by jumping rope just as an example. We all hear everyday how eating healthy, excercise, and getting enough sleep is crucail to! our health and well being. That doesn't apply for adults only. It has to start with our kids. The real fundementals of education and learning in my opinion have been lost. Children used to go to school and learn from energetic, motivated, caring teachers. ur teachers are under so much pressure to perform based on standards.Growing up we were taught the essentials, Math, S.S., Science, Liturature, etc. we also learned to communicate, learned social skills, go to PE, Music and art (which so many programs have been cut)we learned how to communicate through team work, and have some fun. We had dreams of being Doctors, Lawyers, teachers, firefighters, etc. We had teachers that were role models. If you asked the children of our generation what they'd like to be when they grow up They want to be Pro ball players, actresses, or they ask who makes alot of money? This is scary, their reality is warped. There was more interaction with teachers where we could ask a question and receiv! e the answer immidiately. Now they have to wait until the end ! of the lesson because the teacher has a cirriculum to follow and is being pressured because she has to fit in so much in a very short period of time. By the time our children can ask a question they have either forgotten the question or the teacher has to move on tho the next subject. Then they come home with enormous amounts of homework and we have to teach them what they should have learned in school. The frustration is brought home and the stress level in the house increases and then there is resistance, behavioal issues, lack of sleep which adds to distraction the next day. Oh and the compition factor that is involved as well from the teachers down to the kids. We have come such a long way in technology which has made life easier and difficult all in the same breath. The amount of media that our kids are exposed to from TV, to computers, movies, hand helds and so on. We as parents have to monitor our children and their exposure at home. We rely on school to teach our ch! ildren certain fundimentals in school. These tests are ruining our childrens childhood. Yes we have to make sure they are learning and reading and comprehending the material. But giving schools ratings based on these tests is CRAZY. They should be rated on the functionality of the student. That is what is going to make our children successful healthy adults. Everything in moderation. Teachers should be teachers, we as parents have to be teachers too. We chose these jobs, our children did not. Times are hard enough, allow them to grow up happy, healthy, educated and we as a nation would all be so much better off. "
"I think, as someone soon to graduate with her Masters in teaching Social Studies,and who has raised three children in public and private schools, that the NCLB standards do not take into consideration a deeper problem: The lack of Nation wide standards that all states should meet consistently to ensure that all our students are getting a fair and equal education. For that reason our nation consistently deprives our students from skilled teachers, high expectations and well funded schools. We need to nationalize standards so as to bring our Southern students and inner city students up to a level of education that is not embarrassing to our nation. We also need to change how schools are funded. Using property taxes to fund our schools is not equitable and discriminates against the poor, a population that is quickly rising in the changing global economy. In short, NCLB needs to be revamped, funded or eliminated entirely. I'd like to see it eliminated and our energies focused on teaching, not testing. But hey, I'm just a mom and a teacher, what do I know. Let male politicians make those 'wise' decisions for us. They're doing such a great job these past few years. Not!"
"Having kids memorize answers to a standardized test is not educational and doesn't encourage independent creative thinking on the part of the child or the teacher, nor does it teach real-world problem solving techniques. It just makes them good memorizers up to the time of the test , which is then lost. It's uninteresting and boring and totally lacks creative thought."
"There needs to be a way to make sure no unqualified teachers and principals slip through the cracks, and for now I think standardized tests are a decent way to do this. Unfortunately, this isn't how standardized tests are being used in my community. Instead, they're used as bragging points for these high-achieving schools, bragging points for college applications, and bragging points for local property values. Meanwhile, teachers feel compelled to skip important course materials to make sure the students score well on the CAT/6. To solve this problem, I think all standardized test scores should be confidential, only exposed to principals to help evaluate their teachers, and school board to help evaluate their principals. Parents should never be allowed to see the scores, forcing them to evaluate schools based on visits to schools and meetings with school staff."
"On NCLB aligning to standards. Teaching to an expected set of test content is not education - it is accepting that some group has determined what kids need to know. When specific test objectives are known, those are the things that will be taught, not learned, but drilled and checked and pre-tested and worried about until the big dramatic days of testing that come at the end of every school year now. Then the test itself is a mystery of topics and often beyond the understanding of many kids - it is a source of frustration and discontent for kids and teachers. There is actually no 'positive side' to seeing higher numbers for reading scores at the expense of cutting time in other subject areas. Higher reading scores do not mean kids who love to read - means kids who have drilled and practiced on countless worksheets how to pick out the main points from a paragraph. All of this test prep takes away from real lesson planning, real learning time, real exploration - teachers bec! ome scripted workers trying to find 'creative' ways to practice the test. Kids find less and less enjoyment with their childhood days in school. Parents should insist that their kids not prep for tests - how many of today's parents spent their school days practicing for tests and worrying about how they would compete in the world economy someday? Politicians have decided that standardized testing is what we need - and politicians know nothing about educating kids. Why are they in charge here and not the educators of the country? All good teacher assess their students all the time and in many ways. They do not need the state to gather data on the kids. I would refer all to for interesting, practical comments on what is happening to kids in today's testing climate."
"I really wish there was some way to measure the state of learning of the students which does not take time away from instruction ... alas there is not. There is no question, these days 100% of the class time is spent focused on maximizing those STAR test results, and I do not see it as the best way to help the kids learn. The frustrating thing is that for most intents and purposes the school year is over after the STAR testing is done. >From observing a teacher whose classes get higher than average STAR test scores, the teacher forced material beyond the grade level into the compressed schedule leading up to the test. It worked, the STAR test scores were well above average. I wonder how much retention there is ... perhaps the STAR tests should be administered immediately prior to the start of the school year. Of course, then all the parents who put too much emphasis on the test scores would force their kids into Sylvan (or equiv) to prepare them for the tests. Isn't the goal to develop internalized skills? How does one test for that? "
"Standardized tests are an integral part of your child learning how to take a test. On the other hand a child should have balance of learning and taking a test. If my child can't come out of school know test taking tips it would devastate me. I am a mature adult and faced with many tests while looking for employment. If my teachers did not teach me the strategies needed to pass, I would be homeless. In short, there must be a balance in learning and taking tests. Both of them play a huge role in adult life. School is just a short stay and life can last for years thereafter. I never forget how my teachers taught me the ropes, especially in elementary school. In this day and age you are checked out to the hilt before starting a job vs. the time when being hired without a resume and just listing your experience in 3 sentences. Ironically, was always promoted and made a decent salary. Now everthing is so formal and you have to be 'processed.'"
"Please understand that teaching to the test is different then when that term was first coined by teachers. IN 1998 when standards based education and accountabilty came into play the state test had not yet been refashioned to support standards based instruction. Now, without a doubt standards based instruction is expected and the state test does match what teachers are expected to teach in the classroom. This is the best of both worlds, high accountability for teachers to teach basic developmental concepts, no matter where they teach in the state, and a test that will measure the effectiveness of their instruction. THis alignment guarentees students of all grade levels, across the state of california, a guarenteed and viable knowledge base. FINALLY !"
"I do not believe in teaching to the test for any child. In fact if I had my way I would do away with classroom teachers and computerize learning by master teachers. This way children would compete against themselves and not have to endure endless, boring and non-creative teaching. Computerized learning would allow the child to learn the necessary concepts in half the time and then in the extra hours, the youngster would attend enrichment classes in the areas of his or her interest. Millions of dollars would be saved and only the teachers with specialties would be kept. And the best that would happen is that children would not be burnt out by sitting in endless learning in the classroom and would be free to excell in his or her speciality. I know of a school which does not teach the the test and the youngsters score much highly on the standardized tests then the children who are taught to the test. "
"I have to agree witht he last comment, I am afraid to voice my opinion i get rejected all the time with my comments. Our standards stink in this country. Whateve did have to the basic fundmentals the three 'R''s The teachers are baby sitters now, all the homework and work comes home and then the parents have to teach, if they want to or again let the baby sitter handle it. I had to pull my child from the public in FL. They were not teaching to learn they were teaching just the tip of the ice burg to pass the tests. Why are the tests done so early the kids think school is over then."
"What about the high achievers? It's more like 'Bring the High Achievers Down Act'. I have been told that the state adjusts the standards to fit the lowest qualified student. Doesn't sound right... Why not raise them up? This country is 20+ in Math & Science. We should be leading the world in these areas...not baby sitting? Instead of continuing to push kids through school... What else would we do with them? ...Why not employ a model like Japan and provide more structured learning. What happened to our way of doing things...back to basics...The fundamentals of reading, writing, arithmetic... Where did phonics go? What about history? What about our future? We are 'the parents' who have an obligation to respond to our kids as 'kids'. The 'rights' being imposed on them are undermining the future of this country. It's about time parents start acting like adults and 'parent' our kids so this country can have a future, one which has yet to be revealed run by responsible, mature adults. Has one of us so-called 'adult parents' told our kids that it's not against the law to pray in a public school. God forbid if they found out they were protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. What are we waiting for??? Our kids to tell us it's okay..."
"I'm not great at taking tests. My daughter is the same. I feel that the corner a child is put in just to pass from a test is unfair. The real world does not promote anyone with only test scores. Let's look at what each child's strengths are and bulid on them accordingly. In most cases weaknesses are fairly obvious. "
"WHa ti si so bad about teachign to test...hmm let me see the test takes place in March, now you are going to push a child to learn a years worth of education in 7 monthins instead of a 9 month school year. Skipping around in books and a lot of the skipping are the basic fundamentals. Also a lot of pressure is put on the parents to teach the kids. Maybe the public schools should go back to teaching to learn, get rid of no child left behind. Maybe it takes a student 2 years to learn something, because they were not taught a basic issue. The school are too concerned about their funding. I notice the publice school my daughter had started mid term in 3rd grade all the scores went down. I pulled my daughter after 2 months they were not teaching her to learn just tests. She is doing great in a private, for they are teaching her to learn!!!"
"In regards to the FCAT's. I personally think they are a waste of time. The teachers are teaching what is on the test, not what they should be teaching. If a child does not pass the FCAT, they do not pass that grade level. Also, this test was developed by GEORGE W. BUSH when he was Govenor of Texas. He holds all rights to this test and thus gets a kick back everytime it is used! Jeb Bush helped his brother out by making Florida use this test, thus giving more money to George W. Bush. I think it is time Florida stands up and says enough is enough!"
"I SUPPORT TESTING! I SUPPORT TESTING! I SUPPORT TESTING! How can we gage where we are without test results? You can’t pass a test without “learning� how to get to the answer first. How can you honestly quantify learning without some form of measurement? Test! DUH! Most complaints here are parent with failing kids who will obviously have biased opinion. These parents are essentially saying this: “My kids can’t pass the test. My kids are smart. So these tests are stupid.� What they should be saying is: “My kids can’t pass the test. I think my kids are smart. Maybe my kids need my help.� "
"Children should not have to learn to test. Let them learn at their own pace and not what is dictated to them to make the school and A school or make the teachers look good for their bonuses. If a teacher is doing his or her job our children will move on to the next grade level. If we need a test to establish this then there is definately a problem and the State of Florida needs to re-evaluate it school system. We have taken PE out of their schedules so they can concentrate on the FCAT. Wrong, the US is obese especially our children and this is what the school board choses to cut back on? Come on Florida, I grew up in WPB and I graduated just fine. No test accept the SAT/ACT's college boards. Florida we need to ban together to get this FCAT changed and help our children. They are the future. If I could work 4 jobs and send my child to private school I would, if I could home school her I would but society has dictated that most legal americans must work. When does it end"
"Teaching to the test is a horrible way to teach children basic cognitive thinking skills. They are taught for 12 years how to take a test, then they get to college where they are actually expected to THINK. I graduated HS in 1995 and put off college for several years. I saw many classmates struggle through classes where there were few or no tests because they didn't know how to use their cognitive thinking skills. Tests have their place but real life doesn't involve multiple choice questions."
" I think teaching to the test is never good. There are things not on the test that should still be taught and its missed when they teach to the test. Writing is one. My daughter is in kindergarten. They teach the letters and upper case and lower case but they are never taught neatness. When i was in school you had to practice writing your letters so you got neater. Neatness is important so someone else can read what you have written. So much focus is put on sight words reading is not actually taught. My daughter goes to school but i home teach as well. My daughter is way over her grade in reading because i have taught her to read at home. They spend way too much time on sight words and not enough time on sounds and blending. So the rest of the class is learning sight words and some sounds but my daughter is reading big words and spelling. It's not because she's really smart (she is but that's not the main reason) I teach sounds of single letters and combinations and than ble! nding as i go along. Mean while at school the class is memorizing words that are too hard to learn but would be learned naturally later on if given the correct base now. The beginning books out for young children are a joke. The books Biscuit is not even a good collection for kindergärtners. They can't read that word alone they memorize it. Some children this works for but for the most part most children can only memorize but so many words but combinations or lessons to read are easier to learn and go further but are not taught. I know this because memorizing was the way i was taught to read and i failed i didn't learn to read until i got out of school at 18yrs old and am still not a good speller. So the system they are going by now doesn't work for all children and a system that works for all or most children should be the used system. I think the schools fail the children that need it the most."
"I don't think there should be a need to teach to the test. School district curriculum administrators, state department of education curriculum gurus AND state test administrators (i.e., FCAT here in FL) need to coordinate exactly what children need to learn in each grade level. If they did this, the testing info would be what the kids learn every day. There would be no need to cram stuff into kids that isn't covered. To what extent this coordination is done among the units, I don't know. But it seems that if teachers having to teach to a test is a big concern, the real issue of getting the curriculum standards coordinated would resolve that problem. However, I don't see a problem with schools teaching HOW to take and prep for the tests; just for a few days, though."
"I'm glad Greatschools has taken on the 'teaching to the test' issue. Test-taking is only one part of a child's education. It is a very important one. You must pass written and verbal tests all the time. Deal with it! If parents have not realized by now that they are ultimately responsible for their kids true understanding and depth of knowledge on subject matter, then they are not on top of things as much as they think. There is only one way to 'level' on what a child or anyone for that matter knows - written or verbal 'test'. Plan and Prepare! DocMobley"
"If it's a truly good test--testing a student's understanding of a subject--then 'teaching to the test' would simply mean teaching in the most effective way to improve a student's understanding. We need the tests! We parents need a way of assessing our schools: which schools are best? which schools are improving or worsening? If a test lends itself to mindless memorization and test-taking tricks, GET A BETTER TEST. We should all be tired of schools criticizing tests automatically. OF COURSE schools will say tests are bad; schools don't like being scrutinized. BTW, schools and teachers who are knowingly 'teaching to the test' at the expense of true learning, are being unethical. Don't blame the test for that. Peace. John"
"Teaching to the test is limiting the education of students by using only memorization as the assessment of learning. It does not allow for children who think out of the have success in school. We need creative problem solvers in society not just rote individuals."
"Children are individuals with their own personalities, ideas, and learning styles. Sheep-herding them to pass tests instead of enriching and feeding their minds is not real education. My 15 year son came with us to Great Britain at the age of 8. He has had an outstanding education and is a happy student because here they let kids be individuals while preparing them for a future. Here they teach problem solving skills, good study habits, critical thinking skills, etc. Their exams are never multiple choice which enforces their writing skills. (His first 3 years in the US was a horrible experience!) My 3 year old is very much his own person and has a strong personality. I worry about moving back to the US, because he will not conform to their expected norms, and I would never ask him to. We need to allow for individuality in education, while preparing the children to be competitive in an ever shrinking world. NCLB has the opposite effect for the kids who like to think for themselves!"
"Well i think teaching to the test is bad. There is more to learning than what the answer are to the test. How you go there is not tested. So what is being taught is the answers. It's not enough. Knowing 2 + 2 is 4 isn't enough. You need to know how you go there. How to spell THE isn't enough You need to know how to read it now what the word is. The teachers are teaching the word not how to read it. You can teach all the words but if your not teaching to write what is the good of it. Printing isn't enough in the adult world you are judged highly how your handwriting. They will not hire you in any office if you have bad handwriting and handwriting WAS taught and is almost ignored now because it's not part of the test. So i think it's not enough to teach according to the test you will miss lots of things that REALLY being taught misses. That's like living in your own bubble and not going out to get more information on how to live... What's good about life when you live like tha! t...."
"Standardized tests don't include enough questions on any given skill to be the type of diagnostic tool you describe,which was about the only 'positive' you mentioned. That test-taking skills are important to learn is another reason not to turn testing into the current nightmare that is has become. Testing is here to stay ONLY because too much money is being made from it to back out now... not because it makes school districts 'accountable' for any real learning. I was SHOCKED at how ill-informed and biased this article was. This article was so far removed from what is good for our kids, that it has made me question the integrity of your entire site... any place that would actually publish and perpetuate such damaging rhetoric is clearly NOT interested in what's good for kids."
"I Agree with this in some ways but for the most part i don't agree. I think the test is a bunch of trash. I think teachers and schools are afraid that if they don't teach what is on the test correctly they will fail and there for the school will fail. So the focus on what is on the test and nothing else. The believe we can't over teach these subjects but since the others aren't on the test we don't need to focus on them. Hence leaving out things that need to be taught with or with out tests. Sometimes things are taught in a certain way just so they will pass that test. One being spelling, reading and math. They aren't taught how to read but what the words are, not how to spell but how that word is spelled. Not how to add or subtract but how those certain numbers are added or subtracted. So when the end comes to school they don't know these things and can't go on to bigger and better things. They have to start over and learn what they don't know and should have been taught in! the beginning when it would have been easier. Good luck with that. I think the no child left behind is crap too. I have a plan my daughter WILL NOT BE LEFT behind, I'll make sure of it because she's top on my list. I don't leave it up to anyone else what i can do."
"I WAS ONCE TOLD THAT SCHOOLS WANT GOOD TEST SCORES IN ORDER TO RECEIVE FUNDING, BUT THAT THEY ALSO NEED A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE OF POOR TEST SCORES, OR THE SCORES WON'T BE BELIEVABLE. WHEN THE SCHOOLS REFUSED TO HELP MY CHILD WHEN SHE WAS IN NEED ACADEMICALLY, I WAS TOLD BY A COMMUNITY MEMBER THAT SINCE WE WERE NOT LEGAL CITIZENS OF THAT STATE (BEING MILITARY), WE POSSIBLY MAY HAVE BEEN SINGLED OUT BY THE SCHOOL SYSTEM TO BE A PART OF THAT NEGATIVE STATISTIC THE SCHOOL NEEDED TO BALANCE OUT THEIR TEST SCORES. I HATE TO THINK THIS IS POSSIBLE, BUT IF YOU READ ON, IT MAY MAKE SENSE! I have comments on three issues: 1)ALL schools across the country should be teaching the exact same subjects at the same grade levels. As a Military Brat, having moved from state to state, my child did not receive the same education in each state. An example of this happened when she was never in a school the taught state capitols (each school taught it in different grades), and upon moving to California, when asked about a state capitol and she did not know the answer, her teacher humiliated her in front of the class, stating that she should have already learned this. She explained that she was never in a school that taught it. With our many moves, and this not being taught in the same grade level in different states, she missed it completely. And, especially in MATH, where she missed many important building blocks and skills when a school she moved to was further advanced in math than the one she came from in another state: It haunted her the rest of her middle and high school years. She was too far behi! nd and the schools refused to help her. 2) The two comments above asking 'what the school is doing to address any differences in achievement among particular groups of students,' and asking 'if the school uses test results to identify areas that need improvement or to target support for certain students,' are most important to know. My child struggled in 8th grade upon moving to California, and the school noticed an immediate issue with my child lacking vital math skills, but adamantly refused to do anything to help her, or even to move her into a lower level math class that did indeed exist, claiming she would be fine, and did not qualify for help, even though they did not test her for help (such as with special ed). She failed math for the entire year (the only time she has ever failed anything in her life), but was still permitted to graduate 8th grade, and attended summer school often after that to pass math through high school. Although I asked EVERY administrator in the middle school to put her into a lower! level math class to fill in her blanks (as they put it), EVERYONE, including the math teacher, the guidance counselor, the vice principal and the principal ALL said it was against school policy to make any changes once the school year began and that they had to leave her in that class room, claiming she would be fine. Well, in the end, she was NOT fine. To make matters worse, the math teacher was FIRED at the end of the school year. My daughter continued on into high school, and struggled horribly in math, which for a while in her earlier years, affected her studies in some of her other subjects from time to time. To pass the California Exit Exam in high school math, we had to pay thousands of dollars to private tutors and to send our daughter to Sylvan to bring her up to par. Sylvan did not teach her to pass the exit exam, they evaluated her skills in math and taught her what she was missing, which the schools never did. I even later forced the high school to test her for! special ed, when a tutor told me they suspected she had learn! ing disa bilities and could get help through the school if she qualified, and after much argument, reluctantly they did test her, but then told me that she was extremely intelligent, and that her high IQ probably higher than it registered on the test and probably was what was getting her through school, since she had very high non verbal skills, but borderline low verbal comprehension skills, and said she would always struggle by interpreting things differently than the average person would. They also said that this did not qualify her for any tutoring or special education assistance in the public school (Note: upon showing these test results later to her college, they informed us that she was never tested for learning disabilities by the tests the high school gave her, that they mostly just tested her for IQ). My child was very much left behind, and if not for the great amount of money I paid Sylvan to help her pass her Math Exit Exam required for graduation, had we let the schools ! continue not to help her in math, she might not have passed high school at all, despite her having good grades in all of her other subjects, especially after she was no longer struggling over math (she became mostly an A student, and some B's, after she no longer had to struggle over math). 3)The ARTS and PE are very important and should remain a vital part of education. You mention critical thinking, but what about abstract thinking, coordination, creativity, and fitness? I am a prior art educator, and found the art room to be a release to many students who were struggling elsewhere, and a place to express themselves creatively. Additionally, my child attended a performing arts high school that was very instrumental in honing her creative skills in dance and choreography. If we want well rounded students, such as how students in college are required to take liberal arts classes in addition to their majors, we also need to have the ARTS of every form available to our students in their primary and secondary educational years. Not every student is a mathematician, or historian, or scientist, but may excel in music, or dance, or drama, or poetry, or home economics, or sports. My child now attends an Arts university and is excelling very well there, and I am thank! ful that despite the issues she had while she was in middle and high school with their lack of interest in helping her in math, she was able to attend a performing arts high school, which was very instrumental in her getting into the college she now attends. Keep the Arts in the schools. Although I am passionate about the topics I have discussed above, to keep my anger at the schools at bay, I always kid around regarding how the schools let her down in teaching her math by saying that with her problems in math, she is lucky to be a dancer, since dancers only have to learn to count up to ....5,6,7,8, and thankfully her university does not require math for her major, (and it is a very prestigious school). However, with out the higher math required for admissions at all state colleges and universities, she was not able to apply to these schools or attend them. This is very sad, has proven to be very costly both personally and financially, and because of this, I do feel my chi! ld was VERY MUCH LEFT BEHIND, even if she did graduate on time! and is doing well in college now (mostly A's and a few B's so far). But consider this: the financial costs far exceeds the tutors we had to pay outside of school, since her lack of higher math disqualified her from attending state colleges and universities with more affordable tuition, and no one is offering to help us pay for the high tuition at her private college that happily accepted her with out her higher level math courses (she did get one small scholarship and a grant from her college, but it is not much). I am thankful that at least now I know her education in college is not going to leave her behind. They offer all sorts of help for students. A NOTE TO CONSIDER: Tests don't always indicate what you know all the time: they often indicate what you don't know, or how well you can or can't take a test. I think it would be interesting if schools evaluated ALL students based on their personal styles of learning, and then offered students classrooms that taught subjects according to their individual best style of learning, such as the hands on learner, or the auditory learner, or the visual learner. I think this alone would show a marked improvement in learning."