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.
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.
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.