This year’s results of statewide skills testing, called the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, point out the strengths and weaknesses of public education as well as the drawbacks of the state’s high-stakes testing system. It’s another argument for using annual tests more as thermometers — rather than hammers — to measure a student’s knowledge of a subject, so struggling pupils get the help needed to improve and succeed.
When the stakes are raised on tests to the level they are in Texas, where tests alone can prevent a student from receiving a diploma or lead to shutting down an entire campus even when a majority of students meet or exceed state standards, then no one should be surprised that teaching in some subjects is based on a formula rather than on fluency or proficiency in a subject. That’s another way of saying that schools are teaching to the test.
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