Tuesday, June 3, 2008


As I was reading this Gutiérrez this week, I found myself considering the mandated standardized testing that students must endure.  I think we all agree that these tests are ridiculous.
Here's my question.  When teachers such as ourselves manage to create a "community of learners" in our classrooms, value student "literacies" of all kinds, and employ practices that promote social action and student construction of knowledge, do we simultaneously produce the "traditional" literacy that is tested in standardized tests?  In other words, if we abandon the traditional classroom ideals, will our students perform on standardized tests?  
I'm not arguing that we should "teach to the test", because I definitely don't think that's the answer, but let's face it... teachers ARE accountable for their students' test scores...


Grace Butler said...

Ultimately, I think they will. As has been said, students learn no matter which way you teach them. If you cover the required curriculum, then they will learn what's on it. As Lynn Gatto said, she takes her ideas and makes it so that they surpass curriculum requirements. The hardest part may be the way in which students are asked to demonstrate their knowledge. Standardized tests are built around the traditional rote memorization method of teaching, and it benefits students who are taught that way. You don't just have to teach the material that's going to be on the test, you also have to teach the test itself. Students need to translate what they learn and how they learn and spit out in a completely different format.

Genna said...

I have had many of the same thoughts as you Shannon. While I was student teaching my cooperating teacher had definitely created a classroom in which the students acted as a community of learners; however, that is not to say we never have direct instruction. When I took over the room I continued many of the techniques as she did. I found that the students understood many of the concepts that I was teaching and was very encouraged by the labs, questions, and projects the students were creating. However, and this was a big however, when I gave them a test with all regents style questions they had a lot of trouble with the reading comprehension. Although my students knew the concepts they didn't understand the questions the regents was asking. If we don't show them how to interpret regents questions then they will not be able to perform on the standardized tests. I don't think we should be teaching to the tests but it is extremel;y important to familiarize the students with the types of questions asked on the regents.