3 Pros and 3 Cons of Teaching to a Test

In the world of gifted education, I believe that there is a general consensus that teaching to a test keeps gifted students from receiving the best education possible. When a students are taught material that is going to be on a test, students who already have grasped the material are not focused on in the way that most parents would like. However, teaching to a test is not necessarily the worst case scenario. In the following post, I am going to outline what I see are some pros and cons of teaching to a test, then you can decide which way you like the best.

Cons

1. Testing is the Be-All-End-All: When teaching to a test, there is no other way to effectively measure how much a student has learned except by how he or she performs on the test. This applies more pressure onto students as well as teachers.

2. There is no Room for Creativity: Because tests are rigid in the topics of testing, teachers are limited to how far they can deviate from the curriculum. Where as learning about marine biology may be something that leaves a permanent impression on a student, marine biology is not likely to show up on a test unless it was a specific standard. Because test are so limited in the areas that are tested, areas of interest for the teacher and the students are often put aside.

3. What About Different Learning Styles?: Tests test one basic style of learning. Those that learn by memorizing information and are good at reciting ideas and concepts taught to them. However, if you are a student who learns best by looking at pictures of concepts or even if you perform best when listening to music, you are out of luck when it comes to testing. Because teaching to a test is singular in its goal, students are crammed into a single overshadowing group that does not allow the individual to perform in the way that best enables them to score well.

Pros

1. Keeps Teachers Accountable: Testing keeps teachers from becoming placid. When students are measured by standardized testing, one can see how teachers need to improve, as well as if there are any teachers who are slacking on the job. In a perfect world all teachers would teach their students the skills that they are going to need both in the rest of their school career and out in the real world. However, it is an unfortunate truth that not all teachers perform as well as many would like. By using a measuring stick such as testing, administration can make sure that their teaching staff is performing to the best of their ability.

2. Develops Real World Skills: Testing is not conducted in education alone. In the workplace employes are tested on a regular basis to make sure that they are performing well. By using testing to make sure that students know that they are expected to perform, teachers can prepare students for the real world and future employment.

3. Allows Students to Set Goals: When measuring system such as a test is used, students are more able to set goals for themselves. When students have something to strive for, they are much more likely to achieve place-marks that have been set by administration and teachers. Because testing offers a way for students to gauge their accomplishments throughout the school year, testing can be used to give the students a sense of accomplishment.

Even though testing may not be the favorite activity of students, and even teachers. If used in the correct way, testing can offer many benefits. However, if it is not used correctly it can make students resent school and learning as a whole. Testing can become a tool to help students achieve the most that they can, and hopefully that is how schools are using it.

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10 responses to “3 Pros and 3 Cons of Teaching to a Test

  1. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  2. Interesting point of view. I will give it some thought. However, I don’t agree on some of your points. You mentioned holding teacher’s accountable. I think there are more effective ways to this. You also mentioned this goes on in the workplace. Well because it happens elsewhere still doesn’t make something the best to use. Keep on blogging. 🙂

  3. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Overfull
    .

  4. my class is doing research on this and thanx 4 the pros .

  5. this is all very good, but teaching to the test does not let dtudents develop real world skills, it puts them into a rut and does not let them branch out and explore

  6. Another that I just realized is that instead of holding teachers accountable, teaching to the test lowers standards. The teachers that teach only to the test will look stellar while teachers who teach will look average

  7. Being taught to the test , for those who are accademicaly dumb ……… is like being in a dead end job .

  8. I believe that some teachers aren’t held accountable. Many teachers know the standards for the NCLB are almost impossible, so they have given up on trying to teach students. They are able to do this because as most teachers know they have tenure, not allowing them to be fired. The proccess to fire a teacher is ridiculously long, with many many deadlines that must be met. This has been shown on a incredible docoumentary called Waiting for Superman. I reccommend to anyone who wants to know more about the No Child Left Behind Act.

  9. Teaching to a test gives us a whole generation of test takers who can not solve problems or think out of the box. You don’t have to be a good teacher to teach the skills on the tests. If you think this will improve the educational system, you are mistaken. Many good teachers are leaving the profession leaving those “test teaching” teacher to educate the next generation. Every administrator just want higher scores at any cost thanks to NCLB Act. Just my opinion.

  10. Teaching to a test is limiting for both the student and the teacher. I wonder if government planners for education reform and national plans could really investigate how we can develop creative thinkers instead of robots that meet a standard. There are many topics that students can be taught from their own inquiry that utilizes the same skills that are tested. Some students might not want to learn about microphysics and others may have a strong interest in genetics, but they must have the same foundation of understanding to approach those topics and that is what educating students should be about. Students are not being trained to use their critical thinking abilities when education systems suggest that we teach to a test. I believe if we taught conceptually and through inquiry our students would really begin to see real life world experiences and come up with solutions that can be contributed to society to solve those problems. I believe that through reflection students will still be able to set goals that are more specific to their learning and performance standards versus accomplishing a number indicator of their performance that does not suggest where they could improve. I believe through collaborative planning and like assessments discussed in PLCs teachers will be held to a higher level of accountability versus results that they truly cannot control due to the different learner abilities of their students and the fact that that standardized test is not conducive to at least a likely 10% of that classes’ abilities.

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