“Why don’t teachers just teach what is going to be on the test?”

brownart0629 (Medium)Here is a guest column by Jonathan R. Herman, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Georgia State University.

By Jonathan R. Herman

The astonishing reach of the CRCT cheating scandal may be opening lots of eyes, but many of us in the academia have already been noticing a fundamental, and unhealthy, change in how many people understand the purpose of education and what is meant by “learning.”

A case in point. Last semester, I taught a seminar on the infamous Scopes “monkey trial,” which addressed the question of whether public school curricula should follow the consensus of the community or the expertise of instructors. I asked my students to think about who should determine what is taught in the classroom and how exactly that determination should be made.

As the conversation developed, one young woman seemed especially impatient, punctuating her irregular eye-rolls with exasperated sighs. “Why don’t teachers just teach what is going to be on the test?” she finally asked.

The implication couldn’t have been clearer. There is a finite, identifiable body of data that students are supposed to learn. It is the task of the instructor simply to transmit that information.

A generation or two ago, the very worst thing one could say about a teacher was that he or she went blandly “by the book,” assaulted students with facts and figures, and demanded that they “regurgitate” names and dates on tests. It was widely understood that learning should nurture critical thinking, creativity, imagination, analysis and synthesis.

But now, many students want “just the facts,” and they are often baffled by teachers who seem too lazy or recalcitrant to hand them over, who instead haze them with Socratic method, linger on interminable class discussions, and force them to do research apart from consulting Wikipedia. “Less thinking,” they seem to be telling us, “more regurgitation.”

So how did this happen? Why is the expression “teaching to the test” even a part of everyday vernacular?

I would suggest that a big part of this is the sometimes sincere, but more often cynical, desire to hold schools and teachers accountable for what they are accomplishing in the classroom, which has produced a clumsy demand for concrete, mathematically interpretable “data.” Thus, the new educational lexicon involves “rubrics,” “measurable learning outcomes,” “quantifiable standards of performance,” “numerical targets,” and so on.

Suddenly, these calculations have become the basis for funding and accrediting and hiring and firing, which turns the whole intellectual process inside out. Curricula are designed to satisfy the numbers, students are conditioned to tick off their rubrics mechanically when they fulfill assignments, and schools are mandated to engage in ongoing “assessment,” i.e., to construct methods for reducing students’ learning to measurable data points and determining what quantitative thresholds are sufficient to indicate success.

How could a student be immersed in this environment and not conclude that learning is anything other than a process of jumping through a protracted set of strategically placed hoops?

Such a view is perpetuated when schools are pressed to participate in the charade, to foster a “climate of assessment.”

Like the time I wrote an “assessment report” of our program’s goals and results. Shortly thereafter, I was asked to meet with assessment coordinators from other departments so we could discuss how to improve our methods of assessment and write better assessment reports. You heard me; we were assessing our processes of assessment.

At the end of the meeting, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire, asking me for recommendations that would improve this type of workshop. They wanted me to assess their assessment of my assessment.

Don’t get me wrong. It is absolutely crucial that we put considerable effort into curricular design and that we hold our teachers and schools accountable. But the simple reality is that the very best of what we accomplish cannot be boiled down to these “learning outcomes,” and I want my own children to gain more from their education than an ability to satisfy rubrics.

I recently received a surprise email from a long-lost former student, who is now a public school teacher. “Classes I took with you,” he wrote, “were so instrumental in rewiring the way I saw the world around me.”

He added: “I love what I do, and, part of what I do, is try to re-create that same learning environment I experienced in your class. To throw it all into question, to push my students to wrestle with the content and come up with their conclusions, and to take seriously every question that every student asks and to answer it sincerely.”

I’d like to see someone try to quantify that.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

96 comments Add your comment

Cobb History Teacher

April 30th, 2012
5:44 am

“I would suggest that a big part of this is the sometimes sincere, but more often cynical, desire to hold schools and teachers accountable for what they are accomplishing in the classroom…”

And that right there is the problem…we only want to hold teachers and schools accountable. Isn’t it the student who should be held accountable? After all they are the ones learning and assimilating the new information. Now I’m not saying there should be no accountability on the school and the teachers part, but we conveniently leave the student (and the family i.e. parents) out of the picture.

It’s funny how if a Doctor or Dentist prescribes a regime of treatment and the patient fails to follow that regime and the condition gets worse we don’t go after the Doctor or the Dentist we blame it on the patient.
Bottom line teaching should be done for the sake of transmitting knowledge and learning should be done for the sake of learning not just regurgitating information on some standardized test.

Jordan Kohanim

April 30th, 2012
6:12 am

“I love what I do, and, part of what I do, is try to re-create that same learning environment I experienced in your class. To throw it all into question, to push my students to wrestle with the content and come up with their conclusions, and to take seriously every question that every student asks and to answer it sincerely.”

That is what teaching should be. Sadly, in this current environment, teaching can no longer be what it should be. It can only be what it has become: mind-numbing. As more is introduced, required, and scripted, less is open for possibility.

Learning is possibility–not data.

mountain man

April 30th, 2012
6:30 am

It is great if a student can learn to think outside the box, to reflect upon his or her philosophy of life, or other “deep” matters. But we have students graduating high school that cannot talk in literate sentences, can’t do simple math, could not write a coherent sentence. You need to master the “basics” before you tackle the “deep” learning. That is what the test is measuring and that is why teaching to the test is acceptable, in my mind.

Ron F.

April 30th, 2012
6:30 am

“I want my own children to gain more from their education than an ability to satisfy rubrics.”

The next time you’re at a fast food counter or a grocery store and the cashier can’t figure out how to give you change, even when the computer screen has already counted it out, perhaps you should think about whether or not that child met the rubric. That person can’t think because we’ve spent years drilling information into him/her without much time to think about it, ask questions, and learn to think beyond the memorization of information.

I think Mr. Herman hit right at the heart of the testing debate. While we lament scores and wring our hands about cheating, perhaps we should take a long hard look at how we assess learning and what, exactly, is important. We need to assess the way we assess. :-)

mountain man

April 30th, 2012
6:32 am

If you have “tracked” the kids into different levels, then the ones who need to work on basic arithmetic in 12th grade are in one class, while the high achievers are in another class discussing Descartes. And the SPED students are not interfering because they are also in a separate class.

mountain man

April 30th, 2012
6:36 am

“The next time you’re at a fast food counter or a grocery store and the cashier can’t figure out how to give you change”

This has nothing to do with “critical thinking” this has to do with memorization and practice of basic concepts. A lot of high schoolers today cannot tell you what 7 time 8 is without a calculator, because they never learned their multiplication tables. No thinking, just rote memorization. Enough to last a lifetime. I am glad that I had that.

tired

April 30th, 2012
6:47 am

It’s hard to believe they don’t bring a student’s fundraising numbers into their grades somehow. I kid, I kid… sort of.

I was so fortunate to have some outstanding teachers who not just encouraged, but demanded, critical thinking and insightful questions. Of course, that was 20+ years ago and standardized test scores had much less of an effect on local property values, teachers’ job stability, state funding, PTA outrage, etc. It’s sad that so much undue importance has been placed on standardized test achievement.

catlady

April 30th, 2012
6:57 am

Next time, Professor Herman, when someone does the eye roll and sigh, invite a professor of advanced math into the room and have him launch into differential equations. When students protest that they don’t understand, tell them it is on the test and this is their preparation for that test! In my experience, many of the students experience this kind of disconnect. They have been passed along and passed along, have poor reading skills and no basic facts memorized (they are to discover! these facts over and over!) so even a test like the CRCT presents skills that are beyond them. And, since they know they won’t be retained, they blow through the test.

I mean, I get your point, too. When my kids want to know why I am teaching them something, I tell them they are getting it FOR FREE. Might not be on the test, but will be “on life.”

catlady

April 30th, 2012
7:05 am

Kudos to those above. Cobb History Teacher is right–when I did not do well on a test, it wasn’t the TEACHER’S fault–it was mine (and, by inference, my parents) for not putting in the work to do well. Our teachers, although in many ways not as educated as we teachers are now, were not blamed for the failure of the student.

Poor Boy from Alabama

April 30th, 2012
7:57 am

I agree with mountain man @ 6:30

“It is great if a student can learn to think outside the box, to reflect upon his or her philosophy of life, or other “deep” matters. But we have students graduating high school that cannot talk in literate sentences, can’t do simple math, could not write a coherent sentence. You need to master the “basics” before you tackle the “deep” learning. That is what the test is measuring and that is why teaching to the test is acceptable, in my mind.”

Many education professionals seem to forget the need for students to master the basics before they go off on a critical thinking riff.

You won’t find many great musicians who didn’t spend hours mastering scales before they became accomplished players. You won’t find many great mathematicians who don’t have math tables and other basics securely memorized. You won’t find many great chemists who don’t know the Periodic Table by heart. You won’t find many great chefs who haven’t mastered the basics, including a working knowledge of math, biology and chemistry, good knife skills, etc. . .

I could go on, but I hope you get the idea. Students don’t become accomplished adults without mastering basics. We do both the students and the broader society that foots the bill for their education a big disservice if we don’t measure how well students are performing against what some may consider to be mundane stuff; stuff that’s essential in the real world.

Johns creek

April 30th, 2012
8:04 am

Some kids are just plain dumb, and happy to be so. They end up at McDonalds, unable to count change, because that is the life they have chosen.

dc

April 30th, 2012
8:07 am

baffles me how supposed “learned/thinking” educators don’t see that you have to teach the basics first (call it teaching to the test….but IMO, that’s a smokescreen). Then if the student shows the ability to, you can teach the higher level “thinking”. But without the basics, you end up with a student who is pretty much useless to any potential employer.

I’m not an educator, but articles like this make me as a taxpayer and parent think that some educators don’t realize the key role that they play in developing the basic student. I get that the higher level stuff is much more fun, but the basics are more important in the long run.

Progressive Humanist

April 30th, 2012
8:15 am

I have been surprised at how much undergraduates want professors to spoon feed information to them. You’re not “teaching” if you’re not lecturing at them, telling them the information that will be on the test. Asking them to facilitate discussions, write, create projects is not considered teaching. In general, they are very lazy thinkers, even at a college with high achieving students. That may or may not have anything to do with the current testing environment in k-12 schools.

With that said, we’ve got to have assessments that can measure students on basic skills. One half of the adult population in this country reads at an 8th grade level or below. A great many students who actually graduate from high school can’t do simple math. We need to know which students can’t read and who can’t do math, and those results should be tied to whether students move on to the next grade. But we don’t need to blame the 6th grade teacher if the 6th grader can’t read. That problem started long before that and rests with the parents and teachers who passed that student on when he clearly wasn’t ready.

A Conservative Voice

April 30th, 2012
8:40 am

Somebody’s doing something wrong…….. :)

BEAVER, Pa. — Police say two teenage girls who fell asleep while sunbathing on a rural Pennsylvania road have been struck by a car.

GwinnettParentz

April 30th, 2012
8:50 am

The bogey of “teaching to the test” has been so useful, for so long, to those resisting accountability in education—that it’s bound to seem facile to point out no such ability exists.

If teaching to the test were possible … would public schools be in the fix they’re in? Wouldn’t teachers have effectively employed it to take the heat off themselves and their schools?

Instead, teachers’ unions and others with a vested interest in stonewalling reform find it a useful canard to trot out whenever talk turns to poor test results and the culpability of a K-12 education system devised in the 1800s.

The above article is merely the latest in an ongoing attempt to obfuscate and to distract parents and taxpayers.

What cheating scandal?

April 30th, 2012
8:53 am

You keep assuming that there is a cheating scandal. It was only in APS, and maybe in some limited instances around the country. The methodology has been shown to be flawed, and I don’t think it’s really getting picked up nationally since the first fraudulent story came out in late March. Maybe the AJC should focus on being a local newspaper and cover local news? No one believes this!

thomas

April 30th, 2012
8:54 am

There is nothing wrong with teaching to the test in principle. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a test worthwhile to teach to. Most, if not all, of the tests out there simply tests what’s easy to test.

What cheating scandal?

April 30th, 2012
8:55 am

And @Maureen, everyone knows that you comment under alternate aliases.

vmracer

April 30th, 2012
9:04 am

Teaching the test means teaching the skills to answer the questions on the test, it doesn’t mean giving the answers. Apparently too many AJC readers are too dumb to know the difference.

Colonel Jack

April 30th, 2012
9:12 am

Actually, we *do* teach to the test. We just don’t admit it – at least, not officially.

Howard Finkelstein

April 30th, 2012
9:12 am

Seems private schools have none or atleast fewer of the problems that so frequent public schools. Perhap public schools could learn something? NAH….thats too logical….

Howard Finkelstein

April 30th, 2012
9:14 am

Public schools motto. TSA employees educating future TSA employees.

Tony

April 30th, 2012
9:30 am

The most dangerous thing we as teachers can do is limit our classes to only that which will be on the test. In many places, this is not only practiced but mandated from above. As I said, this is the most dangerous thing we can do.

Learning is not limited to some finite, predetermined set of knowledge. Thinking, expanding horizons, learning how to learn, and other critical factors to should be in place in our classrooms are getting squeezed out by the testing craze that is plaguing our nation’s politicians and business leaders.

bu2

April 30th, 2012
9:43 am

Since they are talking about new tests rolling out as soon as 2014, are they going to introduce the new common core grade by grade or all at once? If all at once, some students will miss concepts introduced at earlier grades now. It would be common sense to roll it out grade by grade, but common sense seems to be an awfully high standard to expect from Georgia school administrators.

Inman Park Boy

April 30th, 2012
9:49 am

Carl Sandburg said that the best classroom is “Abraham Lincoln on one end of a log and a student on the other.” That is unattainable, but we definitely should get away from the atmosphere of constant assessment. I am currently a private school principal, and just this morning I am working on a two year interim accreditation report (reams of paperwork) when what I qwould like to be doing is visiting classrooms, helping teachers, and working with chilldren. And the crux of most of the accreditation questions? Data…Data….Data. And “data” is norning more than numbers, numbers from ITBS tests, numbers from SAT and ACT tests, numbers and more numbers. Since it is so difficult (if not totally impossible) to “quantify” the kind of classroom that Dr.Herman describes, accrediting agencies and state/federal governments insist on such useless DATA that says nothning about a child!! We’re in a hell of a mess.

Tonya C.

April 30th, 2012
9:57 am

bu2:

Chances are, heck no. They will roll it out across all grades at once and attempt to remediate those who didn’t receive the content. That’s how the state and districts handled the math fiasco, so we can assume this would be no different.

Chuck Chambers

April 30th, 2012
9:57 am

The issue goes beyond the CRCT. Many teachers also “teach to the test” for regular, in-class tests, even going to the extent of issuing “study guides” before exams that in some cases lay out fairly precisely what topics will be on the exam. In my opinion, the focus on memorizing discourages development of critical thinking ability, the competency that the kids will need most once the students leave school for a job.

In article published two years ago entitled ” Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from
Random Assignment of Students to Professors,” Professors Scott Carrell of UC-Davis and James West of the Air Force Academy suggested that students in introductory calculus courses at the Air Force Academy whose professors, mostly younger professors, “taught to the test” tended, on average, not to do as well in more advanced calculus courses as students of profs who didn’t. Still, profs who taught to the test got higher ratings in teacher evaluations. http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/staiger/files/carrell%2Bwest%2Bprofessor%2Bqualty%2Bjpe.pdf

Mary Elizabeth

April 30th, 2012
10:08 am

If one of the reasons for educating is to enlighten, then we must acknowledge that enlightenment will not be forthcoming simply by teaching factual information. Below is a paragraph from my blog which elaborates upon this thought.
————————————————————–

“I have observed that some who view others with generalized, stereotypical perceptions, often insist that the only valid ways of knowing truths are through factual, mathematical, and scientific deductions. Although those ways of perceiving should be valued, it seems that many who accept only those ways of perceiving truth often fail to recognize and develop higher consciousness concerning why we are here, who we and others are in full, and how we should relate to others. These ways of understanding reality are fostered, not by a series of facts, but by the humanities, which emphasize mutilayered dimensions of thinking and perceiving human nature with complexity. Moreover, those who are exclusively centered on sets of facts for determining reality may often fail to appreciate the transcendent beauty and power of the human spirit, as experienced in performances such as Puccini’s ‘Madame Butterfly.’ The humanities and the arts aid in cutting through stereotypical thinking into more realistic and complex understanding of ourselves and others. Seeing others as stereotypes not only limits the other in our mind, but it also impairs our ability to solve effectively many of the world’s problems. For example, I do not think the problems between Israelis and Palestinians will be solved, regardless of how many facts are on the table, until both groups can envision the other as equal human beings who have an equal right to exist where they are, and not simply as the embodiment of a stereotypical external label, which can easily be turned into a one-dimensional, caricatured enemy.”

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/danger-zone-stereotypical-thinking/

Maureen Downey

April 30th, 2012
10:12 am

@Mountain, Nothing taught me basic math skills as effectively as my career as a waitress, starting at age 13 at Dairyland, an old-fashion ice cream parlor, all the way through to grad school where I worked on weekends at a swank steakhouse. These were the old days when I did it all on a pad with a pencil and folks paid cash for the most part and expected their correct change.
Maureen

Jack

April 30th, 2012
10:13 am

The “eye-rollers” usually wind up as fry-cooks. And they’re usually the sub-set that are always always whining and moaning about how “unfair” life has become.

Jack

April 30th, 2012
10:15 am

Maureen’s 10:12 hits the nail on the head.

Atlanta Mom

April 30th, 2012
10:29 am

Seems to me, long ago and far away (and certainly before NCLB), there was a need for exit exams in high schools because HS were graduating students who could neither read nor write. I believe this is a justifiable use of testing.

cargo

April 30th, 2012
10:41 am

@dc One of my fondest memories is my Dad teaching me to count to 100 when I was a toddler. One to ten is rote memorization, yes. But he made it interesting and fun, by making it a puzzle. He showed me that I could figure out what comes next myself, because everything repeats itself. By the time we got to 39, I had gotten it, albeit with some corrections – fifty instead of five-ty. Once we got to 100, he explained that it starts all over again and I could have counted to a million on my own.

That simple problem-solving exercise got me so excited about learning, and my potential (I feel that way to this day). External rewards, like test scores, given to trained monkeys, is a poor substitute for curiosity and an internal desire to learn.

catlady

April 30th, 2012
10:52 am

In about 1978 Doonsbury had a series of cartoons about how “current day” college students were all about taking notes only on what was going to be on the test. At one point the prof went crazy and started spouting off, and one student said to another, “I can’t believe this is ogoing to be on the test!” Everything old is new again.

irisheyes

April 30th, 2012
10:53 am

@Atlanta Mom, I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case. I think, instead, students who were poor readers and writers were still able to find jobs and careers that required hands-on skills. My grandfather, for example, graduated high school reading at about an 8th grade level (if even that), yet he was able to support his six children by working on the railroad. Those labor intensive jobs don’t exist anymore, so those students are struggling to find a place in the world.

Eric

April 30th, 2012
11:06 am

You’re right on with this article, Maureen! Thank you.

I agree with several posters above that mastering the basics (e.g., multiplication tables) early on would enable higher order/abstract thinking in the later (adolescent-college) years. However, the current over-emphasis on assessment turns learning into an anxiety-ridden experience, thus stifling creativity and critical thinking.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 30th, 2012
11:07 am

Bravo, GwinnettParentz!

d

April 30th, 2012
11:09 am

I wonder what exactly is teaching? I had a student tell me today that she was going to report me to the assistant principal for not teaching anything all semester and then giving them a test on it. (Actually, I am administering a practice EOCT to see what information I need to review before the real deal next week). Now I did have to inform this student, as I did her mother last week, that if she would be quiet and listen to what is going on in class, she might actually learn something.

That being said, I’ve heard many times about the Georgia Performance Standards – they are the MINIMUM to teach, the MAXIMUM to test. Fair enough. I have gone beyond the GPS on many occasions, but heaven forbid I am actually doing that on an observation day. I don’t have a GPS for consumer and producer surplus, so it won’t be tested, but it does stretch the understanding of Economics for students.

Another issue I have seen, and I have mentioned this before, students tend to get bored when they are spoon fed the information that they need to have to be successful on a Georgia test (CRCT, EOCT, whatever), but I have so much resistance when I actually ask them to think about anything and come up with the answer on their own. I know how they feel. Day after day in my World History class, we copied notes off the transparency scroll on the overhead. Not very fun. I did learn a lot, but what helped me grow as a student is when my teacher did have us create stuff based on what we learned. I couldn’t have expanded on information to reach higher levels of thinking without the base knowledge. I will say where I am concerned is adding 22 Georgia Performance Standards for Economics to however many additional requirements for Common Core when everything I have seen so far indicates that Common Core will assume my seniors next year will be able to operate having 12 years of the Common Core Curriculum under their belts. They don’t. I am really worried that I will be teaching double the material with no extra time and don’t know how much Common Core will appear on the Economics EOCT.

GwinnettParentz

April 30th, 2012
11:17 am

Amidst the self-pity of public school teachers who don’t want to be held accountable …

… we wonder if they’d voluntarily entrust the life of their own son or daughter to a surgeon who never had to sit for an exam demonstrating his/her competence? Or turn their life savings over to an investment adviser certified without testing? Or their nation over to a President with absolutely no idea of how the national economy works?

Eric

April 30th, 2012
11:20 am

Who in their right mind wants to be held accountable anymore? Just look at the new Common Core curriculum changes. Can anyone say public education is “dumbing down” our students? Hardly!

EXAMPLES OF COMMON CORE CHANGES (source AJC, 4/30/12)

The new Common Core standards will lead to curriculum changes in Georgia schools this fall. Some examples:

In math:

• Shapes introduced in kindergarten, not the first grade.

• Factoring, prime numbers, composites and adding, subtracting and multiplying fractions introduced in the fourth grade, not the fifth grade.

• Negative numbers introduced in the sixth grade, not the seventh grade.

• Solving inequalities and basic probability introduced in the seventh grade, not the eighth grade.

• Calculating the mean absolute deviation introduced in the sixth grade, not the ninth grade.

• Determining the volume of a sphere introduced in the eighth grade, not the 10th grade.

• Use of the Pythagorean theorem to find distances introduced in the eighth grade, not the ninth grade.

Maureen Downey

April 30th, 2012
11:26 am

@Gwinnettz, Teachers do sit for exams.
And here is the another analogy on the other side of teacher accountability debate using your doctor framework:
We wonder if a hospital would hold a heart surgeon liable for an overweight patient patient who never exercised, who ate Big Macs and fries for lunch every day, who forgot to take his medication, who skipped appointments and who told the doctor, “I am never going to give up my cigarettes or my Jack Daniels.”

Laurie

April 30th, 2012
11:37 am

“[L]earning should nurture critical thinking, creativity, imagination, analysis and synthesis.”

Absolutely.

There are some things that do need to be memorized or perhaps just repeated so frequently in practice that they get picked up (yes, multiplication tables); but in truth, the more understanding you have of a topic, the less you need rote memorization. Rote memorization is what you need for things that have no meaning, and if you have poor understanding, there are a lot more things like that that need to be drilled.

The problem, as I see it though, is that a lot of teaching involves neither the teaching of “facts” nor to the facilitating of real understanding. Criticizing the teaching of “facts” and extolling the importance of “creativity” can, unfortunately, be a cover for just plain poor or absent teaching. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it often is.

Glen Lillquist

April 30th, 2012
11:37 am

ear Maureen,

Sadly, Chuck Colson has passed. Fortunately he also passed on some great thoughts about education. His book: How Now Shall We Live?”
(Tyndale House, l999), emphasize acquiring a worldview.

Seems as though our educational system and philosophy is very wrong in that teaching to pass tests is the end all and be all.
The direction I see being discussed today is to inculcate a love of reading, and a desire to learn at the earliest age. Let science and math come along later in the educational process. Give children a zeal and zest for writing, communicating, exploring concepts, ESTABLISHING A WORLD VIEW based on who they are, where they are and the responsibility of interdependence.

Jacques Maritain (d.1973) a gifted philosopher described educational process: early years: love of reading and learning, teen years: basics, young adult: undergrad still in classical courses, languages etc. POST GRAD: mandatory for all- decide what one wants to do for a career and take the appropriate courses. At age 30 work in chosen field for 20 years and then do government service for 5 years (mandatory) Freedom to chose retirement after government service.

Good luck, and good night.

Glen Lillquist

Tonya C.

April 30th, 2012
11:47 am

GwinnettParentz:

Teachers are not AGAINST testing as a whole. But testing is fast becoming a substitute for actual education. As an example here are the tests my 8th grader will take next year:

COGAT
ITBS
CRCT
Georgia Writing Exam

This does not include midsterms and semester exams. He’ll do well because he is a natural test taker. But all told those tests take a good 4 weeks out of a 178 day school year. That’s not a drop in the bucket. And there is prep for the CRCT and Georgia Writing Exam that will take place as well. I as a parent want benchmarks of my son’s progress. But I can’t say that that list isn’t overkill, and would love to hear the perspective of someone who thinks it’s fine.

thomas

April 30th, 2012
11:51 am

@ bu2,

In math, they are switching to the Common Core, except for those HS (or could be MS) students who have already started their HS math curriculum this year (or earlier). They will get to complete the HS sequence as it is now.

The Common Core GPS for next year includes several “transition standards” to cover those standards students would have missed. Some topics have been moved up (to a later grade) while others have been moved down (to an earlier grade). Those topics that have been moved up, at least in theory, should not require as much attention since students have already learned it previously. So, hopefully, teachers will have sufficient time to include the transition standards – actually, in most cases, if they don’t, students can’t make sense of other on-grade topics. So, teachers really have no choice.

dc

April 30th, 2012
11:51 am

re the hospital holding the surgeon accountable in spite of the incoming condition of the patient….seriously, Maureen? Of course they do. It’s called malpractice, and the Surgeon is absolutely forced to do all he/she can…. Sitting around and whining about the patient not caring just isn’t a viable excuse.

I’ve watched athletic coaches take a bunch of kids who didn’t care and weren’t in shape, and motivate them to give their all and excel. Not easy, but since the coaches job is 100% tested (wins/losses), they have no choice.

None of this is easy (even in the “real world”….:), but those teachers who truly can inspire a set of students to achieve above and beyond need to be recognized and compensated….and just like w/ coaches w/l %, testing appears to be the only way to subjectively measure the value a teacher brings to a group of students.

dc

April 30th, 2012
11:52 am

objectively, not subjectively.

Maureen Downey

April 30th, 2012
11:57 am

@DC. It is not called malpractice when a patient refused to comply with care or do his part. If a doctor was held accountable for lifestyle related premature deaths of patients, we’d have very few doctors still working.
Maureen

GwinnettParentz

April 30th, 2012
12:06 pm

@Maureen. The “tests” the AJC sits for are its quarterly profit statements.

Why wouldn’t Cox Corp stockholders be justified in concluding your newspaper’s continually falling circulation has much to do with the poor fit between its decidedly liberal newsroom staff—and a less liberal public?

Results are results, whether they be stagnant CRCT scores or falling share prices. And at the end of the day, excuses will be seen as excuses.

Maureen Downey

April 30th, 2012
12:15 pm

@Gwinnett: As with all testing, there are different measures and messages. Our online readership is skyrocketing. Does that then suggest a good fit to use your analogy? And our circulation numbers are improving. Does that suggest a better fit or a better economy?
Simple answers are nice, but they are often wrong.
Maureen