If the goal is higher test scores, the best strategy is to teach well, writes Craig Jerald on Quick and the Ed. He cites a three-year study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, which looked at elementary schools.
They found that students whose teachers assigned them more “authentic intellectual work”— tasks that called on disciplined inquiry, complex thinking, and deep conceptual learning — logged much higher test score gains than students whose teachers relied on “drill and kill” assignments normally associated with teaching to the test.
That means good teaching produces higher test scores than “teaching to the test”! Not coincidentally, it also produces better educated citizens equipped with a more powerful set of intellectual skills increasingly in demand in today’s workplace.
But low-performing schools don’t know how to teach well, Matt Yglesias writes. It’s a lot easier to do test prep, which boosts scores a little, than figure out how to engage disadvantaged students in authentic intellectual work.
Many states are using cheap, off-the-shelf tests that measure low-level skills, writes Sara Mead, plugging Ed Sector’s Margins of Error report. New England states are getting together to develop good standards-based tests.
Eduwonk has more.