After asking many teachers the top three answers that have been given are:
1) “To assess, and find out actually what the students know” Rebuttal to this
2) “If we don’t test it, the students won’t want to learn it”
3) “Hold teachers accountable for their teaching`
Rebuttal to 2:
First, we need to understand that there is difference between learning and achievement. For more click here.
Second, if a student asks you, “Why do I have to learn this?” and your first or only response is “for the test”, then you are actually destroying any possible engagement. People need to understand that learners don’t ask for the application to challenge the teacher, but actually want to understand the meaning behind the concept.
If there truly is NO real life application then I would first advise you to contact those in charge of your mandated outcomes and ask them why you need to teach the specific outcome. In the defense of the government, if they don’t know there is a problem, how can we expect them to find a solution?
Assuming that the outcome does have real life application, we should be focusing on the relevance and not the mindless repetition of the outcome. Contrary to some popular belief, students do crave knowledge, but they need to be shown the “why” just as often as the “how”.
For some outcomes this is an easy task, while for others I understand this can be quite difficult. I, however, do believe that no matter how challenging it might be to show the “why”, the learning that will occur because of it, will make the journey worth taking.
An exam should not be the reason anything is taught in a class. “Teaching to the test” should be the equivalent of swearing in a classroom; something that should NEVER be done or even entertained. I read the following, and became sick to my stomach!
Everything that has to do with the test has been given such a high priority, that there is no priority any more but that … The bottom line question comes down to, "Well, what’s going to help them do better on the test?" And if it’s not going to help them do better on the test, well, we don’t have time for that right now (Wright, 2002, p.10).
I would hope, that most agree, that the above statement is not one that teachers should be making. If you believe, however, that a test is the only way students will learn, you are on your way to making the statement above. I strongly encourage educators to allow students to find significance in given tasks, and you will start to see that your test no longer becomes the reason students want to learn.