Tinkering with tests
Pity the poor teachers!
Seven years after Maryland schools received their first "report card" in the Maryland School Performance Program, lawmakers want to add yet another layer of testing to assure that graduating students are competent in their subjects. We thought that's what the state's so-called functional tests were supposed to measure, and we have two concerns about another set of tests.
Despite research (and some stellar examples) which show positive results when principals and teachers are allowed the freedom to use techniques they know will work, a new group of tests will only bind schools more closely to a state bureaucracy that may or may not know how to get the material across.
More important, if teachers know their own performance and that of their schools will be measured by student test scores, they'll be under pressure to "teach to the test." In such circumstances, it wouldn't surprise us if students learned less about how to think and more about how to take tests.