STAAR: DO TEACHERS TEACH TO THE TEST?

By Jackson Osteen

Sadly, in education today, our priorities may not be where they once were. Emphasis has shifted from teaching to learn, to teaching to pass, and it leaves both students and teachers alike wondering if the shift is simply an example of changing a society, or something more. Should we worry if education is what is used to be be? Are we taking away the most important aspect of learning? There are definitely both pros and cons to teaching to the test.

First let’s clarify, what is “teaching to the test”? This simply means teachers sanction more time for preparing students for standardized tests, rather than time dedicated time to learning the information in ways other than specifically for standardized tests. But is this necessarily bad?

Pros:

The truth is, without standardized testing, there is no way to ensure every child in America gets a fair education, with everyone getting the opportunity to learn the same thing. There’s just not a basic standard, therefore making a national education system basically impossible. Teaching to the test isn’t bad because it keeps teachers on track and helps them stick to specific curriculum, and helps ensure their students learn what the state mandates them to learn. If teachers didn’t have these standardized test guidelines, teachers could teach whatever they wanted to, thus causing a educational system where not everyone is learning the same things. The bottom line: If teachers did not teach to the test, student would be ill prepared for standardized tests, and would in turn cause them not to go far in America’s educational system.

Cons:

Since the enactment of the No Child Left Behind law in 2012, an unprecedented amount of emphasis has been put on standardized tests scores. More pressure equals more teachers teaching specifically to prepare their students for standardized tests. But, it’s not the teacher’s fault. States put so much emphasis on these exams that it leaves teachers forced to teach extra test specific lessons to make sure their students do well on these exams. Teaching to the test is not how learning was intended to be. Learning was intended to inspire, cultivate and grow students, and sadly it’s impossible to do all of those things when we make learning a “one-size-fits-all” mold.

Albert Einstein once said, “Never let your education get in the way of your learning.” No matter how you look at it, our educational system has reformed over the years, for the good and the bad. Learning and education aren’t looked at the same way as they used to be, and sometimes the defined line between them becomes blurred. So it’s up to us, the students, to ensure our schools aren’t just a place of education, but a true place of learning, at both Pin Oak and around the nation.

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