“Teaching to the test” has been a perennial shortcoming of the public school system. However, in recent years, it has mutated into a viral form of “teaching to the standardized test.” While standardized tests can be an indicator of general proficiency, the only thing they measure directly is the ability to take a particular test.
My son Nick’s initial Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) score jeopardized his chances to gain admission to Georgia Tech, even though he had straight A’s in high school. With a little study he was able to boost his score by over 200 points on his second SAT. That was good news, but it certainly cast doubt on the validity of a testing system that supposedly accurately measures a student’s readiness to attend college. The fact that knowing or learning “how to take a test” can significantly alter the results makes that test suspect. Of course, the testing companies that make hundreds of millions of dollars annually will tell you otherwise. Despite what his first SAT score indicated, Nick would go on to earn a masters degree in civil engineering at Tech, finishing near the top of his class.