A few weeks ago, the New York Times Magazine was an education centered issue. Here’s a quote from one of the articles. “In the ‘after’ classroom Britt envisioned, some students might be working together on an assignment appropriate to their shared level of competence. Others would be ranging ahead on their own, catching up, exploring a special interest.” My first thought after reading this what that assessing that class would be difficult, essentially making each class of twenty-five students into three or so classes of seven or eight students. That’s a lot of different quizzes. Then I thought again and realized it wouldn’t be difficult, it would just be extra work for the teacher. If it means a vibrant, communal learning atmosphere, I don’t mind extra work in the slightest.
Ok, maybe I mind a little bit, but still it might be worth it.
Then I thought, what about the dreaded standardized tests? It seems to be expected that all students to be on the same page when it comes to what they have learned in class. While thinking about this I remembered a tweet I read over the summer, “If students do well in math class, they’ll do well on a math test”. By teaching content instead of to the test, any standardized test will be easy for students who are ahead and actually a piece of cake for any student doing well in my class.
A test could / should be the least that the student knows, not the most.
Teach past the test, teach through the test, ignore the test all together. Know math because it’s worthwhile to know math, not because it’s necessary to pass a test. Parts of this are so obvious yet can be forgotten very easily if the teacher (me) allows themselves to get stuck in a rut.