Teaching To The Test

April 19, 2008 | Blog

Thursday’s Christian Science Monitor ran a provocatively titled op-ed–“Good Teachers Teach to the Test.” In it former Los Angeles teacher and UCLA lecturer Walt Gardner contends that teaching to the test is “eminently sound pedagogy.” That’s educator-speak for “it’s the right thing to do.”

In the era of No Child Left Behind, many educators and observers have bemoaned teaching to the test. Gardner makes the case that teaching to the test in the right way is about much more than teaching kids to fill in tiny bubbles and master only basic skills and knowledge. Sadly, that does happen in some schools.

If a test measures what we want and expect students to learn and be able to demonstrate, then why not teach to the test? Flying in the face of conventional wisdom, Gardner argues that it’s entirely possible for a highly skilled educator to design an assessment integrated with their lesson plan and the overall curriculum.

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    cochran86

    April 23, 2008

    Hello, I teach 8th grade history in upstate NY. I really enjoy your blog....in regards to "teaching to the test" Mr. Gardner is on point and I completely agree with him. I have a state exam at the end of the year, that I push the students to do well on. There is an explicit curriculum given to me by the state, which I can then take and do whatever I want with. I find that people who say they won't "teach to the test" means they are either afraid of not getting high results, or are in a position where they have to change around their curriculum to gear it more towards the test.

    I am in my third year, and much of the research I have found (Understanding by Design By Grant P. Wiggins, Jay McTighe) says to design your curriculum backwards, start with the assessment, then make objectives, then activities and teach to those.

    At any rate, I really enjoy your blog and hope you guys keep it up!


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