I agree with you. If we’re going to tie teacher’s salaries/job security to tests, the only two choices are massive test prep/teaching to the test (which is still no guarantee of higher scores) or cheating. When people’s livelihoods depend on high test scores, which they have no direct control over, they’re going to do what it takes because they have to survive.
The error is not something we can pull out of the tests. The tests are designed to differentiate between schools.
For example, if School A gets every answer correct on a standardized test, and School B gets every answer correct on the same test, which school is the better?
Therefore, the tests have to be hard so not all the questions are answered correct. Now if school A gets 60% correct and School B gets 59.5% correct, we can say School A is slightly better than School. B.
Using these very difficult tests to evaluate our students is just unfair. They are not designed for that purpose. Instead, tests which consist of all the requirements they need to know, should be given and easily passed.
To make a teacher’s job depend upon such a test, which truly as everyone knows is an event they have no control over, dooms American education to these two things:
One, either the test becomes the sole focus of all education, and the tests are not currently being used for that purpose, or.
Cheating is done, and all administrators look the other way….
There is no other alternative. Teaching broad based knowledge like we had has children, where we were allowed to ask questions, where the teacher can go off tangents if “a bird flies into the room”, where there is a bond between teacher and student built upon trust and respect, … may educate our children to where they need to be,… while getting the teacher fired…..
I’m not saying get rid of the tests. We have the systems in place; they are a great evaluative tool. As one example, they can pinpoint out groups of students who are strong in all math skills except for division… We can now fix it.
But let us divorce using these tools meant for another purpose; let us stop using them to become the sole reason we fire unionized tenured teachers….
We need to divorce all teachers performance from being evaluated from these tests… Let’s get back to teaching the things that are really important..