Before I begin the blog, I want to explain the choice for my blog's title: Teach to the Test. In many ways, teaching to the test is inevitable in today's schools. Whether you campaign for No Child Left Behind or reject it entirely, the matter is that today's students are judged by his or her ability to test and preform well on state and national tests. This doesn't just happen when a child is trying to get into a good college.
In Minnesota, the state where I am most experienced, students start testing in third grade. In my school, we test all students from Kindergarten to 12th grade (we are a K-12 school) three times a year using NWEA: Northwest Evaluation Association. Does it impact them in the long run what they score on this test? Sometimes. But the foundations of testing well and understanding how questions are asked does.
With the importance of these tests, teacher accountability, and the number of failing schools still rising, yes, I do teach to the test. I look at my state standards and nearly have them memorized. I incorporate my sample test items in my daily lessons. And I follow my yearly curriculum map as best as I possibly can.
Teaching in a combined second and third grade classroom, I have the luxury of one group getting a pass on the test for another year. It doesn't mean I hold them to any less standards. I expect all my students to pass state testing and, eventually, get into a college that will give them a step up in the world that most of my students' families did not have.
I promise that this blog doesn't document only matters of testing: merely, the practice that I am following to enable my students to succeed.