What are your thoughts? Do more teachers teach content or do they teach a test?
Would that it were only one. In my wife's school, there are the CRTCs, the county benchmark tests, the school benchmark tests, CogAT, and ITBS--more than two weeks of testing in all.
The CrtCs are the biggies, as these are the principal determinant of whether or not the school made "AYP"--adequate yearly progress. If the school doesn't make AYP, then hey, it is a "failing school."
What would you teach, if it were you?
Because schools are held accountable for progress due to test scores, sadly many teach testing and the objectives covered on the test. Not all bad, but education should be more about preparing for a future lying in the student's interests talents and individual capabilities.
I can guarantee you that teachers teach to the test because of the pressures that are put on them by the administration and the administration force the teachers to do so because of the pressures from the state and federal government agencies that no nothing about education. Do not blame the teachers. They are in a system that is broke and if they buck the trend, they will be out of a job.
Here is what I find most interesting. As soon as the final test is over, and with about a month left in the school year, teachers are left alone and that is when they get into really teaching content and become passionate about what they present to their students.
Unfortunately, in the times of No Child Left Behind it has become an era of teach to the test...teaching content is almost not allowed anymore...have an awesome theme unit you want to teach? Too bad, state assessments are coming up...
I would say most teachers teach the test, but most good teachers teach content. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how teachers teach in order to figure out how to ace classes, get good grades etc. and I have observed that through all my teachers, the ones I learned from and still remember are the ones that taught the content. This is something I think teachers in higher grades should keep in mind (and I think it is often forgotten). To be a teacher you don't necessarily have to know how to teach you just have to know the content you are teaching and I think that is why most teachers are measured upon test scores of their students and teach for tests rather than for content.
Unfortunately, we are teaching to the test due to the demands that are placed on us regarding test scores and making AYP. This is the age of accountability and I don't think that's going to change any time soon.
I do believe, however, that a good teacher can teach to the test while also presenting the standards/common core in a high quality, engaging manner. Students know the difference when we are passionate about what we are teaching; it's infectious and our students can't help but feed off our excitement. That's exactly why I teach!
I can only offer information based on my experience with public school, where my son can no longer read at an accelerated level, but he can pass a test with top scores. For the entire month of May, I have to rearrange my schedule to pick him up after school three times a week because he has to attend mandatory "tutoring" so he can pass the SOLS so the school can reap the benefits. Did I mention that if his entire class misses a question, the question is discarded as a "bad" question rather than going back and trying to teach the children the information they would need to answer said question?
It depends on what level (and type) of schooling, the system, and the school itself.
I've been in classes with teachers that taught just enough to pass the tests, and fantastic teachers that covered a lot of extra interesting content, from primary school, through secondary, and even in university. I've also been on the teacher-assessment end, where even though my co-teacher and I scrambled to fill in huge knowledge gaps caused by insufficient prerequisites being stated for the subject, the higher than normal fail rate was rigorously questioned.
In places where teachers are 'graded' on how well their students perform, I think many would teach to best prepare for tests. This is one of the drawbacks of teacher-assessment - where salary, bonuses, responsibility, teaching schedules, further training, and career advancement may depend on how the students' results. It's worse when teacher-assessment is done across cities, regions, schools or even across classes.
It is not good when a subject/class is assigned to a teacher, and it is not their speciality or in their area of interest. Then teaching to meet test requirements is common. Teachers who are enthusiastic (it's contagious), and knowledgeable are often able to motivate students to learn more thoroughly, above and beyond the test prep.
Although many teachers try to teach more than what is required to pass assessment tasks. However, many students are test and score focused - the information they retain is specifically for exams. Extra information, not needed on the test, is often forgotten.
Until the laws regarding education are changed, many teachers' hands are tied. So many teachers would love to teach content, including me. There are times when I would, especially if I had the extra time. It is boring for the students to just 'learn' what is on the test; taking it to another practical level made it interesting and useful to them.
Sounds like a consensus that more teachers teach for a test. You all shared very honest answers to what has become a norm in the classroom thanks to No Child Left Behind. Thank God that some states are being relieved from the mandates of this legislature. Hopefully, all teachers can begin to teach content again without so much emphasis on tests. DocSnow to answer your question, I taught mathematics (elementary and middle school) in the same state in which you live for almost 10 years. Even though I taught my students based on the GPS and the QCC before GPS to make sure that they were prepared for state mandated testing in the spring of each year, I still taught them content that prepared them beyond where they were. My students always scored well. This was much easier to accomplish with the QCCs than GPS because much of the classroom learning under GPS has to be demonstrated through performance tasks. However, I do not believe that I would be equally successful in the classroom today due to the amount of testing that students are administered all year long. There is so much testing that it leaves very little time to teach.[15 day assessments, benchmarks, PAR, unit tests, daily assessments, state mandated standardized tests, etc (just to name a few)] Thank you to all of you for your comments. I pray for the day when all teachers will be at liberty to truly teach content again.
Teachers are definitely teaching the test and not the subject. Funding is tied to test scores so the districts are more and more focusing specifically on the standardized test in lieu of real education.
Many public school teachers are going to a content teaching style. There are so many things that the children are required to learn that if a teacher teaches astray of that their students might not get the best grades on the required tests.
With private schools, they are held at a different standard. These teachers are allowed to teach away from the testing content. In this way, they are allowed more creative content teaching.
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