So after talking about the issue of comparability between states with the No Child Left Behind in my previous posts, I’m now going to move onto a different problem I also see with current system. This problem is referred to as “teaching to the test” and it involves the way a teacher teaches their curriculum under the No Child Left Behind system. Normally when I teacher is teaching without the standards based testing system, they will create their own curriculum and teach they would like with few restrictions. Their teaching would include a broad range of subjects to include math, science, reading, grammar, history, government, and so on so the child gets a well rounded education. The teacher would spend their time shuffling from one subject to another during the regular school week and concentrate each subject at their respective time. This may include having a series of projects and field trips or experiences that would allow the child to better experience each subject.
With the No Child Left Behind system now though teachers are feeling an ever increasing pressure (I will talk more about the pressure students and teachers face under the NCLB system later on in this blog series) to have their children succeed on these tests. How a child is doing on tests now reflects how a teacher is teaching his/her students. So if they students in a class are doing bad on the standarized tests, a school system will assume that the teacher is not doing an adequate job of teaching her students the things that need to be taught. This could lead to poor performance reviews for a teacher, certain actions being taken and even leading to the eventual termination of a teacher.
So to prevent this action being taken and their performance reviews being poor, a teacher will take any action possible to make sure that their students test scores come out good so they remain in the clear for another year. This includes changing their curriculum to include basically only the subjects that are included in standardized tests. These tests include the subjects math, reading, and grammar (science is also included but in most states this section of the test is not included in the overall scoring of the child). By changing their curriculum a teaching is excluding other subjects such as the different types of sciences, history and other social studies. A student’s education than becomes less of a well rounded education with hands on experience and more of an education based solely on three subjects with complete focus on testing and the scores that come from them.
This is not good for a student’s education and ultimately limits in the future when they are trying to decide what interests them and what they are good at. This changing of curriculum is known as “teaching to the test” and it has become the main focus for teaches in elementary and middle schools in the recent years.