I’ve never understood some of the assumptions that surround standardized testing. First of all, the very practice of separating the test-making from the teaching strikes me as stupid somehow. Commissioning one person to write the test and a second to teach the material might prevent some self-protecting laziness, but it also completely evacuates the educational value of testing. Second, the culture of public education’s strange aversion to “teaching to the test” that an alien entity has written only compounds the absurdity. Basing schools’ state funding (sometimes federal) and possibly closing them based on students’ performance on tests only tangentially related to the curricula given to the teachers and avoided in actual instruction time is only a recipe for feudalism, rewarding those schools who were wise enough to build in areas where parents are more involved (that is to say, middle class neighborhoods) and punishing those foolish enough to try to teach the poor (part of poverty being parents’ inability or unwillingness to help children much at all with school).
Many teachers, of course, try to work around all that, making study guides for the students based on previous years’ tests and advancing the radical and dangerous idea that, if a test comes along, students might want to study for it. But leave it to Gwinnett County to nip that in the bud–when the wealthier schools discovered that the schools with poorer populations were cheating on (i.e. studying for) the state’s tests, they complained to central office, and now the county has issued a decree that no student shall receive a study guide for the Benchmark test.
The world is safe again for those who teach the wealthy. Long live feudalism.