In brief, they found that the advent of high-stakes testing led to low-performing students receiving more support from teachers and parents and to teachers focusing their instruction more on reading and math. However, they also found that a key concern of testing opponents has merit: teachers spent more time teaching test prep skills — simply explaining techniques for successfully taking a test. (One teacher claimed to have devoted 240 hours to such tasks in 1999.) In addition, the researchers worry that added training may be needed for teachers to actually improve their instruction (rather than just refocusing it), and they note that the long-term effects of grade retention are unclear. Still, most teachers supported the policy . . .
Chicago schools will focus on teaching reading; students won’t be held back if they fall far behind in math and other subjects.