The View From 1776

Teaching to the Test: Another Aspect

Cheating and lack of competition among schools sabotage Federal programs, both good ones and bad.

Frank Madarasz, who has contributed other postings, sent the following comment regarding Teaching To The Test.

I am in agreement with what you have written in your article teaching to “Teaching To The Test.”? There is one problem, however, that you did not mention.? Many of the teachers and school systems have trumped up the grades in order to get a passing mark and the federal dollars that go along with it.

There are subjects that require lots of rote memory.? Medical, law, and business courses are the leaders. (Boy, do I remember the hours and hours of memorization for my physiology, economics, and poly sci courses as opposed to my physics courses in which you had to understand the concepts before you could apply them on the test or in real life doing research.)? Nevertheless, in the end, you do want that professional to be able to do independent assessment and thinking.? The hit on the medical field is that most doctors are not very good diagnosticians.? Memorizing and cramming tons of material is important in these fields, but without the capacity to use that information to accurately, efficiently and expeditiously solve problems all is a waste.

Recently I saw a 20/20 article on how poor the educational system is in America, and I cannot disagree with that thesis.? The solution, however, was that competition eliminates the inequities of the system.? The proof was that charter, private and voucher schools simply do much better.? In Belgium where the money is allowed to follow the kids the students are markedly better than their US counterparts.? Scenes from classrooms in public schools were shown and compared to those in private and charter schools.? There was a big difference in the conduct of the students.? Those in the private and charter schools were well behaved, quiet, attentive and eager to learn.? The situation was the opposite in public schools.?

Is competition responsible for this?? Well to a certain degree it is since it forced the separation of students whose parents were overtly interested and involved in the children’s education, enough to push for their children to be placed in an environment conducive to learning.? That is, it was as much a matter of the values of the parents as it was competition between schools, which was responsible for the positive out come.? The program did not play this aspect.

I went to public grade school and high school in the 50’s and 60’s and recall that I received a very good education from competent, dedicated teachers for the most part.? If I got into trouble and my parents had to come into school, I was in double trouble as were most of the other students I attended school with if their parents had to come in.? So societal values are important and we as a nation have or are in the process of loosing them when it comes to education.?

This brings me to another point that the 20/20 article did not investigate.? While it hit on the power and negative impact of teacher’s unions it did not hit on how poor the Education departments in universities have become and, for the most part, the ideological simpletons they turn out with little or no knowledge of the subject matter they will embark on to teach.

From what I know, “No Child Left Behind” is in principle a good idea, but in practice it has become a perverted waste of money at the student’s expense.

Visit MoveOff Network Members