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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Poll: Admit it; Do You Teach to the Test?

Poll: Admit it; Do You Teach to the Test?

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I remember my first year of teaching, I was an elementary teacher, and it was my task to teach the multiplication tables for the grade level quizzes we all had to administer. I wracked my brain trying to design rules for a board game that could make learning the rules fun and engaging. After all, I was determined that I wasn't going to be a drill and kill teacher, forcing those kids to memorize facts without meaning, recitation over and over without substance, merely to teach to the test. I designed the game, the kids had a great time, there was a creative "buzz" throughout my classroom, but when it came time to sit down and take the timed quizzes that my school dictated…my kids came out the lowest of my grade level team. So while my grade level team moved on to the next unit, I was back to the drawing board. I sighed and began my drill and kill unit of memorizing the tables. Even I was bored. Admit it; Do you teach to the test? YES. Teaching to the test isn’t such a horrible thing. Drill and Kill moves things along in some circumstances and can earn the test scores that allow me some autonomy in the classroom. Not everything needs to bring a smile to a kid's face. NO. I have faith that the meaningful lessons I teach eventually translate to test scores. It's our job to keep lessons applicable to the world outside school. If the tests don’t reflect meaning, then we need to stay away from the easy out. Besides if we teach to the test, then the lessons that help fill out a student’s knowledge go out the window.

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