Teaching to the Test

I found another interesting quote in Joshua M. Dunn’s Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins; in 1983, Jeanne Chall (professor of education at Harvard) observed:

Pre-Grade 4 reading can be said to represent the oral tradition, in that text rarely goes beyond the language and knowledge that the reader already has through listening, direct experience, TV, and so forth.  We can view reading beyond Grade 4 as comprising the literary tradition—when reading matter goes beyond what is already known.  Thus, Grade 4 can be seen as the beginning of a long progression in the reading of texts that are ever more complicated, literary, abstract, and technical, and that require more world knowledge and ever more sophisticated language and cognitive abilities to engage in the interpretations and critical reaction required.  The materials that are typically read at Grade 4 and beyond change in content, in linguistic complexities, and in cognitive demands.  [p. 130]

Dunn brings up these point related to test results in the Kansas City public schools, which showed improvement in the early years, but then got progressively worse as the children got older.  This was also true for students who spent their entire education within the high-spending high-enrichment period of the court ordered desegregation plan.

In support of his assertion that teaching to the test resulted in ephemeral gains succeeded by worsening performance with longer experience in that public school system, Dunn cites observations by UC-Riverside education professor Harry Singer related to similar practices elsewhere.

Now decades later, under the mandate of our Congress and directed by conditional waivers decreed by the Obama Administration, our public schools are reportedly suffering a nationwide plague of teaching to the test in a vain effort to increase scores.  I have witness this error committed last year by my nieces’ teachers.

The educrats claim that the tests are to blame and we should stop measuring; however, I judge that it is the teachers who are to blame due to their lack of professional integrity.  By teaching to the test, these public school teachers are cheating…not only on the tests, but they are cheating the students’ futures and defrauding the taxpayers.

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3 Responses to Teaching to the Test

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Books for Selfish Citizens, 3rd Quarter 2013 | Selfish Citizenship

  2. tanimaraghu says:

    That is what we are dealing with, all the kids. Our futures are at stake, but what can be done about it? How should Govt. help?


    • Jim says:

      While I value the achievements of my fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson (a.k.a the Sage of Monticello and founder of the University of Virginia), I believe that our subsequent experience with public education proves that despite his goal of liberating education from religion that subordinating education to the state did not create educated citizens nor focus upon elevating individuals based upon merit. In education, the role of government is to get the hell out of our way as we educate, through voluntary trade, our beloved children.

      For more on Thomas Jefferson’s contribution to education in America, including how the original goals diverged from the actual result, see Dumas Malone’s definitive six volume biography of Jefferson, especially the final volume.


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