Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Another example of teaching to the test

The Herald-Tribune (Florida) had an article on May 13 entitled "Poor Schools Work Hard to Improve Scores on FCAT." The article opens with the tale of Mariah, a girl stuck in the third grade for three years because she could not pass the FCAT until her third attempt. The article asks the question: "How does a school teach Mariah to read?" From the initial impression and the fact that she was left behind, even though there is something called No Child Left Behind Act, I would say the answer is not very well. She finally passed the exam, but only after being involved in an intensive reading exercises program. Her school takes students like her out of the regular classes for a daily half hour of intensive reading exercises. Of course, the girl is happy she finally passed, and she can thus move grades, but in the meantime, her self-esteem suffered because of having to teach to an exam that likely does not measure how smart and capable this little girl can be. Another example that illustrates the unfairness of using one high stakes test to measure the ability of a kid who is likely a good learner otherwise. And this boils down to yet another example of, as they put it in the article, how schools have to "shift focus of their curriculum to get children ready for the test."

I made a note of a study about how Social Studies is losing ground to focus on the test in my other blog. I think it just adds a bit more to the discussion.

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