Teaching to the test?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Sep 21, 2013

    The way I plan starts very broad, and then becomes detailed.

    I plan by creating a mindmap of all of the units I'm going to teach first, and determine the learning goals for each unit based on state standards, the keywords, and my two focus questions for each unit.

    Then I create an exam based on these learning goals and focus questions.

    Using the exam, I create a skills toolkit that the students can use to check off their understanding of each skill. I'm still looking for a way that I can implement some type of formative assessment into my units so they have an explicit time when they can test each skill and either check it off or not, because most aren't doing it on their own.

    Then using that skills toolkit, I broadly plan each lesson first by weekly focus, and then what I'm going to do for that day.

    And then I do daily lesson plans that go into detail exactly what we're doing that day.

    Anyway, others who I have shared this with, said it sounds like teaching to the test, because I base my lessons on the skills toolkit which is directly based off of the exam I write.

    Would this be considered teaching to the test? Is teaching to the test in this case really even that bad? I want my students to feel capable on my exams.
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't necessarily think that what you're doing counts as "teaching to the test". Lots of teachers employ a backwards planning model, and I don't think that's "teaching to the test" either.

    When I think of "teaching to the test", I think about teaching only the skills and concepts that will be absolutely necessary on a test and nothing more. I could have the wrong definition, though.
     
  4. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    If you have designed your test to assess the standards , then you should be "teaching to the test". Right? I view teaching to the test as using direct examples from the test to teach, not just the skill but the exact questions.
     
  5. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Peregrin, it sounds like good planning to me! And I don't think it sounds like teaching to the test, which has a negative connotation. It sounds like you are planning your year, units and lesson according to your standards and the most important concepts your students need to have. It think that's great!
     
  6. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Right!:)
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think this is a good definition, better than mine.
     
  8. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Agree--you are teaching to what you want them to learn and they will show what they learned through your assessment-whether it is a test or some other sort of measure. If you don't know what you are assessing for, how would you know what to teach?!
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I agree with this. For example, let's say there is a standard to teach on magnets that is on test. A teacher who teaches this in isolation with little or no concern of whether the students really appreciate and understand the use of magnets would be teaching to the test. The teacher that realizes to really understand and appreciate magnets that it is necessary to go beyond just teaching the standard and therefore goes beyond teaching the standard to get students to truly understand it, is not just "teaching to the test".

    Another way to look at it is what is your goal in teaching it? Are you only teaching the parts to remember for a test, or are you trying to make sure that the learning is something that they remember for a long period of time after the testing is complete?
     
  10. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Sep 21, 2013

    What you are doing is teaching to the STANDARDS, which is otherwise known as Understanding by Design. There are some amazing planning resources and templates available if you want to really delve into it. Highly recommended.
     
  11. Upstream

    Upstream Rookie

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    I have read several of the posts in this thread and think this reply sums things up nicely. In my opinion, good teachers want to teach for understanding and this is what education should be about. Teaching to the test as I've seen it, is teaching students to find the correct answer on the state test given near the end of the school year, whether or not the student understands the question or the concepts in isolation or in context. This can include test-taking strategies, which often gets a bad rap. When teachers teach for understanding, teaching test-taking strategies is beneficial in lessening test anxiety, and not harmful. Teachers have way to much pressure on them to produce higher test scores-how's that for a news flash? :lol:
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I like the way you plan, that's pretty much how I do it. Of course you have to design a test that will assess their knowledge, and you actually have to teach them that knowledge / skill, so it has to go hand in hand.
    I always thought 'teaching to the test' means the teacher is focusing on the standardized (or whatever other type of) test so much, that only teaches and emphasizes skills / knowledge on that test and skips other grade level and important things that are not on the test.
     
  13. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I don't call it teaching to the test, I call it backwards planning. It's how my team does things.
     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I agree.

    To me teaching to the test is pulling exact question types off the test and drilling them over and over. For example addition word problems. Taking the adding word problems off the test, changing the words and numbers and drilling them over and over.
     
  15. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Sounds reasonable. My department gets a little confused though because we always share materials. I always send my tests before any of the other materials because that's the first thing I create. I would say 85-90% of the material I cover in class appears on the test.
     

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