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Teaching to the Test

By January 31, 2013

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Educators across America have to face a dilemma each school year. In many grades, the students are preparing to take some form of high stakes test required by their state. A growing number of states are tying school funding to how well the students at a particular school do on each year's standardized tests. Because of these factors, teachers are compelled to stop teaching their own curriculum and instead focus on preparing students for the statewide exams. When an exam closely parallels the standards required in the core subjects, then the need to stop everything and focus on the test is not truly needed. However, in most cases the test does not follow the standards and teachers find that they are being required to 'teach to the test'. This added pressure to be a test prep expert on top of all the other roles that are required of teachers can sometimes lead good teachers to leave the profession altogether. I just want to be clear that I am not arguing against a well-constructed statewide exam that truly reflects student learning. Instead, I take issue with exams that do not parallel what teachers are required to teach according to state curriculum standards. In the end, I do not believe that students truly benefit from these types of exams.


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