August 23, 2010


It's so easy to say, "Teach to the test." 

Then, it's easier to say, "I don't teach to the test."

I have believed for a long time — and seen it work — that if you put a guaranteed and viable curriculum into place and train teachers how to teach that curriculum effectively, your test scores will take care of themselves.

When Amber, now 19, was in 4th grade, I was getting ready to head to work. Back then, I was a curriculum director. I said, "I have a meeting at 7 o'clock tonight. We're meeting with parents about the MEAP." Amber threw her backpack down and said, "MEAP, MEAP, MEAP, I'm so tired of hearing about the MEAP."

Apparently, in early December (this was back when the MEAP was given in the spring) the curriculum changed to a test booklet called the MEAP Coach.

The MEAP Coach is not a guaranteed and viable curriculum that will improve student achievement. It is a supplement designed to "teach to the test" in a quick, ineffective manner that may or may not help students achieve on the test. But, really, don't you want students to have knowledge rather than "crammed memory"?

In the new educational economy, it's no longer about teachers lecturing to a class and the students remembering facts. It's about teachers facilitating learning for students — which is a totally different mindset. Our job in education is to prepare students for whatever they believe their next step will be. Our governor, Jennifer Granholm, wants all kids prepared for college. Not all kids will attend college and many know that before high school. It's not even that they can't do it, but they don't want to.

Our State's requirements for ALL students are quite HIGH — when they should be student focused. Our job is to prepare each student for whatever his/her next step will be in life. It may be work, trade school, college, etc. Daunting task ... you bet.

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