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LostInParadise's avatar

Is it necessary to teach to the test in order for students to do well on standardized tests?

Asked by LostInParadise (28559points) April 28th, 2011

One of the main criticisms of No Child Left Behind is that it forces teachers to spend their time drilling students on the types of questions that appear on the tests. Must this be the case? I am not familiar with the types of questions on the test, but if they give an indication of what students know then there should be a better way of teaching students so that they perform well on the tests. If teaching to the tests is the best method of preparation, then the tests need to be revised.

I think there should be standardized testing to show how well students and schools are doing, though I think the government places too much emphasis placed on the test results.

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11 Answers

marinelife's avatar

No, you just have to include grounding in the subjects covered on the test in your curriculum.

Jeruba's avatar

Certainly not. We took standardized tests long before the insanity of teaching to the test took over the curriculum. Some of us did very well.

YARNLADY's avatar

The fact that it is tied to funding and tenure is what makes it important, not the child’s education. Ideally, it would just be a tool to assess the progress of the child, but unfortunately it has become a political issue.

roundsquare's avatar

@YARNLADY True. And, in the name of “fairness” the government has to give out enough information about the test so that schools know what to teach.

JLeslie's avatar

Not if the test evaluates what students at that grade level should have learned throughout the year. When I think teach to the test, I think of cramming for a few weeks before the test. Am I wrong about that? I am not against testing, because we need some sort of objective gauge of how children are doing, and if they are meeting minimal requirements, but tying it to money for the schools is awful in my opinion.

When I was in 8th grade we had to take a test; if we did not pass you could not go on to high school. Parts of the test we specifically were taught a couple of weeks before the test and I think it was fine actually. One thing I remember was learnng all the two letter postal codes, I don’t see anything wrong with learning those. But, generally the test was about being able to do the basics. Basic comprehension, math, basically what every 8th grader should know.

lifeflame's avatar

I really think it depends on the test design.
I remember doing the SAT test unfamiliar with the test format; and basically a lot of time was wasted because I wasn’t familiar with the structure; rather than my actual intelligence.
So there are “test-test” where the format is more dominant.

We’re a pretty test dominated culture here in China, and I hate to say this, but there are usually ways in which you can to learn to play the game better. I think the trick is to design tests that are accesible and designed to give feedback, rather than mere scores.

JLeslie's avatar

@lifeflame The SAT is not an IQ test. Although there have been generalizations about what score correlates to what IQ I think. I test very high on IQ, not so high on SAT’s. I am always in the top 96–97% percentile on IQ tests, but on the SAT it is lower by several percentage points.

roundsquare's avatar

@lifeflame I agree that the format of the test is important. I think the problem, in the US anyway, is that in the name of “objectivity” we have tests that are SUPER standardized to the point of being predictable. The more predictable, the easier to game. (Sorry if this is a repeat of what I said earlier, I think this is more clear).

lifeflame's avatar

@JLeslie – I was using intelligence in a more broader, general sense than IQ (in the context, the understanding of complex ideas/adaptation); so was not attempting to correlate SAT with IQ.

Incidentally, I don’t think that the IQ test is a good measure of intelligence either; partly because it is a standardised test and is unable to measure the multitude of ways in which human beings can reason, intuit, create, adapt and solve things. (c.f. multiple intelligences)

emeraldisles's avatar

Its hardly fair for the kid to not graduate because he or she does not pass a standarized test or state test. You can’t always blame the kid.Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

MissAusten's avatar

I don’t think it has to be the case, but it is probably tempting for schools that may already be failing and need better test scores. If the school is a good one, the kids won’t have any trouble with the test.

Only my oldest has taken the state’s standardized tests so far, which start in third grade. During third and fourth grade she’d bring home two or three worksheets a week (not much considering how busy the kids are each day) that were formatted like a standardized test. The idea was to get the kids used to it so they’d be familiar with it when the actual testing took place. Since she went to middle school in fifth grade, I haven’t seen any worksheets like that.

If the teachers here are teaching to the test, they are doing a very good job of hiding it. I’m always impressed with the creative and fun curriculum, the special things the kids get to do, and the access they have to technology. However, we are very lucky to be able to live in a town with such a highly-ranked school system.

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