Friday, November 05, 2010


Testing is a necessary evil in teaching. Now the trend to see if teachers can teach is to do standardized tests and based on the performance of the students over several years you get a good idea of which teachers can teach. Or can you? Does that really tell you which teachers can teach or which teachers can teach to the test? What about writing? Does the ability to write to some random prompt mean that the teacher is able to effectively teach writing? Or can they just teach students how to write to a prompt?

I'm asking these questions because I seriously don't have an answer. I totally get the idea that teachers need to be able to teach in a measurable way, and that it's not like a job in the private sector where if you're in sales, all you boss needs to do is to look at the numbers and they can tell if you're doing your job or if you're a mechanic and it's easy to tell by the quality of your work if you know what you're doing.

Teaching isn't like that. You can use standardized tests but then the weakness is that teachers will stop teaching properly and simply teach to the test. And honestly if they start using testing data to see if I'm a good teacher or not the pressure will be huge to do just that. That will be cool for the teachers but not the kids because real life is more than a scan-tron and a proficiency prompt.

There are just some issues that don't have good answers...