In the current world of increased school accountability and high-stakes testing, there is a natural resistance to focusing on skills that can help our students improve scores on a single test. I understand that. After all, we teach math, reading, writing, science, and all the other important things. Do we really want to teach test-taking skills to kids?
Yes, we do. The ability to score well on a single test is rapidly becoming a life skill. Think of the many applications when a person must take a test: to enter college, to join the military, to become a policeman, a firefighter, and EMT, a hairdresser, or even a teacher. The list is almost endless.
Giving our students skills to prepare adequately, reduce test anxiety, organize answers, and pace themselves when testing will be invaluable to them in life.
I also understand the normal opposition to the notion of teaching to the test. But if the standards are appropriate and the test assesses those standards, isn’t it fitting for us to expect students to perform well on those objectives?
On the other hand, we can’t lose our souls in the matter. We are professional educators, and we know what our students need to master before leaving us and transitioning to the next level. We have pacing guides, curriculum guides, assessments, and a host of support materials to direct us.
The test is just that: only one test. It is a high-stakes test, but it is just one assessment. We cannot give in to the idea that we must focus all our efforts during the year on preparing students for the single test. Don’t allow your own anxiety about test results to drive what you must to as a professional educator. you don’t have to lose your individuality or your connection with your students. You can adequately prepare them for the test and still retain your creativity to be an effective and caring teacher.
Taken from Improving Student Test Scores: Winning the Game Without Losing Your Soul, copyright © 2010 by Herman Blau. Uses with permission.