George Lucas Educational Foundation

Duncan: "Don't Teach to the Test!"

Duncan: "Don't Teach to the Test!"

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Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had some shocking words to say to 200 hundred teachers in North Carolina yesterday. "Don't teach to the test." He said: "We want to give every child a chance to discover their genius, what they're best at," Otherwise, Duncan said, the nation won't be able to keep up with technology advances being made in other countries. He also took aim at the emphasis on standardized testing as part of President George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program. This has huge implications, as I describe on my blog here: Most importantly, it is a further indication that richer assessments may be on the way! What do you think?

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Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi Anthony,
It's strange the way education works, isn't it? In Australia, we are being told that we pretty much must 'teach to the test', which I find disturbing and frustrating. This is part of NAPLAN, nationwide standardized testing - with funding closely linked to performance. They are even talking performance based pay for teachers.

It's not right - learning is not that simple a process.

Anthony V. Manzo's picture
Anthony V. Manzo
Professor Emeritus, Literacy Education/Cognitive Psychology

Teacher Preparation is Impossible as Currently Conceived
The path to teacher accountability & results-justifiable tenure is obstructed by an error in logic that is not only easily fixed but would greatly improve efficiency and effectiveness in every classroom. Teacher certification and staff development are seriously flawed. There is no real market place in proven ideas, in some ways Teacher Education is unregulated, "Free Market" controlled by vested interests and locked in place by another case of industry blindness. It is more of a mishmash of competing whims and crystallized but untested practices with no continuity across the profession.
I wonder, on these grounds, whether you might help me find professionals, ideally yourselves, that are interested in collaboration on what has become a Herculean, but potentially very low cost (Freakonomics-like) solution. It is an effort to more scientifically identify what should be the core curriculum of every teacher education program, but has somehow not ever been aggregated, namely, our Best Pedagogical Practices. Doing so would lift the entire profession since there is no other profession that has not done this in some shape or manner. It could be argued that the absence of preparation in a core curriculum makes teacher education impossible, and therefore, evaluation of teacher effectiveness based on student outcomes illogical, if not irrational. Currently there is absolutely no agreed upon congruency of principles and practices from one professor to another, let alone from one School of Education or School District to another. We desperately need something resembling algorithms, empirical studies and ongoing case reports on Best Practices. Ironically, there has been pretty remarkable progress in pedagogical science made in the last 50 years, it could even be called a Cambrian Period as when many new life forms began to appear on planet earth.
Should work toward such an algorithm and fine-tuning system interest you please look in on my early attempt to jump-start such an effort. It would be a very worthy project for anyone who teaches or cares about pedagogical science. It exceeds my current capacity. See at:
Anthony V. Manzo Ph.D.

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