Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who is to blame: The teacher or the test?

Here are some comments about high stakes exams from a reader of my blog:

"You seem to think that you can absolve them of their responsibility by simply blaming the exams for their lack of humanity or professionalism.

About the alleged example of the teachers only feeding the kids properly on test days, I agree that it's disgusting (if it really is true); but it still isn't the fault of the test. It's the fault of the teachers who are displaying this appaling lack of humanity.

Blaming their unethical behaviour on the exam, and not on them, is what's disgusting.

As for your comment about "this implies that only these outcomes should be emphasized in the class? This sounds a little corrupt to me." - I never intimated that only those outcomes should be emphasized. In fact, I consider anybody who ignores the curriculum in favour of 'teaching to the test' to be incompetent and think they should be fired.

And yes, that incompetence is their fault, not the test's fault. "

Full conversation at "Mandated Exams..." and "Don't teach that, its not on the test"

I know open the floor, to any and all readers of my blog.  Am I out to lunch, implying it is the test that is forcing our hand here, or is it really the imcompetence of teachers?

Please comment below.


  1. Some would like teachers, students and parents to pretend the tests don't exist because the best way to get good test scores is to focus on good teaching and real learning.

    This is precisely what the policy makers want.

    And while it's true that teachers are partially responsible for narrowing and dumbing down the curriculum in response to the tests, the policy makers who create the laws that place inordinate amounts of pressure on teachers to do exactly that are more responsible.

    Standardized testing is a cancer.; ignoring cancer and simply living life as if it doesn't exist, rarely yields promising results.

  2. The new movement is for teachers to lose tenure and to be evaluated solely on the performance of their students on those standardized tests. So, teachers are going to teach to the test. Can you blame a teacher for wanting to keep their job? I don't believe that is incompetence but it is reality.

  3. Seems to me you and the other guy are both taking extreme views - the tests aren't wholly to blame for the teachers actions and the lack of ethics can't be entirely blamed on the teachers. Context is probably important.

  4. If your students' standardized test scores are your primary (or only) metric for performance evaluation, where would one expect a teacher to focus their efforts? In endeavors that might not bloom for a few years, or ones that will provide quick results?

  5. If by "the other guy" you are referring to me, I have placed my name conveniently for you to see...