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Re: The hype about Texas (and NY)

In a message dated 2/8/99 5:41:09 PM Pacific Standard Time, Ddeliberto@AOL.COM

<<As a test developer, I am
not too concerned about teachers teaching to the test (this can be a positive
if the test is worth teaching to). Instead, I focus on developing tests that
measure the knowledge and abilities that teachers consider to be important.
As I see it this is a collaboration -- not us against them. We work together
to ensure that we end up with a test that is worth something.

Diana and others: Can we pause right here a second, because this is an issue
that we all need to clarify I think.

My own response: I have real issues with this statement.

Because all tests are only samples of the knowledge being tested, no matter
what the test, teaching to it will ultimately narrow curriculum.

We are being told left and right by many states that their new standards based
tests, the ones with open ended questions, are "better" tests and so they are
ok to teach to. And I still think it is a big mistake. These tests are still
only samples. They are only part of the standards - not the whole. I also
think they are a pretty blunt instrument for working with individuals, while
they might provide some general programatic information. They can't provide
information on how to approach children - they are about getting children to
approach the test. But morevoer, They fail to give any information about a
whole host of skills we highly value and need to develop in our students -
that are not on these tests.

What I'd like to see if some explicitness about this. For instance, if we
mean that because kids have to write on the test, than teaching to it causes
teachers to teach kids how to write, please lets just say this. Because
actually, this is really one of the few benefits that I have heard that could
be plausible.

At the same time, I don't think the test helps teachers to teach writing
better - only that maybe they should. And - I think in other subject matter -
including math - that what doesn't happen is a change in teaching - it ends up
being more about how much of each thing to teach or amount of subject matter
to cover.

I hear a lot of generalizing around this statement that teaching to better
tests results in better teaching I think is quite mistaken.

Bottom line: I really don't think that standardized tests are a good tool for
improving teaching. And frankly, I don't think thats what most of them are
created to do.

Other thoughts on this?

Karen Hartke

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