Article

Do You Feel Pressured to “Teach to the Test” to Maximize Standardized Test Scores?

If so, do you believe this pressure is detrimental to you teaching, or to your students’ education?

  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Yes, as a third-grade teacher in New Hampshire, I find myself being pressured to teach to the test. Once the scores are published in local newspapers, all the schools are ranked. Even worse, scores from year to year are compared in terms of schools' having done better or worse! The problem is that you are comparing two different sets of kids! It's an unfair manipulation of statistics. One intern (student teacher) said that she had less reading to do on her college boards than New Hampshire third graders. I do not think that these tests are actually testing valid information. To top it off, we don't get results until November and as a third grade teacher, I rarely get to see individual kids' scores.

Mrs. C., New Hampshire

In my state, my second-grade students do not participate in EOG Tests, but we are pressured to get students ready by using multiple choice activities in the fourth quarter. I feel that this is detrimental to my students because they are being asked to perform in developmentally inappropriate ways. Second graders are not ready to use the multiple-step critical thinking skills it requires to achieve a high score on our EOG tests. Somewhere we are forgetting why we are on the job. Aren't we there to teach the students and not the test?

Tonda Horne, Charlotte, NC

I teach BD/LD students, and the testing requirements for our students age level and grade is demoralizing for the students' self esteem. Students cannot spell, let alone write, a complete sentence. When asked to compose an answer, students have no idea what to do. In class we spend all of our time trying to teach the students to read and write, add and subtract. If given multiple choice, they guess their way through. I hate seeing the reactions when the scores come in.

Teachers are now being asked to make sure the subjects of the standardized tests are taught. Some of our students will be lost, maybe forever, if this is the only intention of the tests. All year I have worked hard with one student in particular, trying to get her to remember new words from one short sentence to the next. I'm not saying that the subjects don't need to be covered at all, but trying to make them the only objective for our students is not a good idea.

Gail Morris, Kansas City, MS

Yes, that's all that is talked about — especially this year. We've had so many practice tests that we haven't had much time for quality teaching, and the children are "burned out" on testing long before the important one at the end of the year. Our district has a history of low test scores and there is extreme pressure to raise them. Now they tell us that the state is resorting to threats (that they will take over our school) in order to get us to perform. I wonder if they could do a better job — and whether those tests are really accurate measures of academic success!

Karen Linder, Wasco, CA

I am completely pressured to "teach to the test." In fact, the month of January is spent teaching out of a practice test book for our state test, then the month of April is spent getting the students "ready" for the ITBS. This is lost time in which I could be teaching critical thinking skills. There is a loss of fluency in my teaching. Seventeen of my students grew two years in math according to the test results. Unfortunately, I am unable to take full credit for that. The practice test booklet was extremely accurate as to what was on the test, and my students did well because they practiced well. I feel the test scores are not an accurate portrayal of their mathematical skills.

Anonymous

Yes, absolutely. In Toledo, in the 6th grade, we don't pretend to do more than teach to the Ohio Proficiency Test for most of the year. This has several devestating results for our youngsters. The idea that education should be developmental, especially when so many youngsters come to the 6th grade working at a 3.5 to 5.7 level in academics, has been completely lost. It means that the children will not complete the material required for the thorough education that they missed in earlier years. The question is no longer asked, "Does the school exist for the children's benefit or for the state's benefit?"

Harriet Warnock-Graham, Maumee, OH

  • Subjects:
    Assessment, Homework and Studying Support, Homework and Tests
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