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Teaching From the Test

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Four-plus years into the NCLB era, some teachers are adopting a new attitude toward standardized tests: If you can't beat ’em, may as well use ’em. Educators in Bristol, Connecticut, for example, attribute the recent turnaround of two high-needs schools to a systematic approach of analyzing and acting on test-score results. For the past few years, teachers and administrators in the district have gathered in strategic teams to parse student-performance data and tailor instruction to address the trend lines. The process did not come naturally, however. “Education is not a culture of collaboration,” notes Bristol Superintendent Michael Wasta. “It’s a culture of isolation. ‘Give me my kids, close the door and let me do my thing.’” But there’ll probably be less door-closing now: The district’s method has been adopted as a statewide model.

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Testing has sort of worked backwards to give school systems the curricula they had but kept locked up until evaluation time. Then it was dutifully trotted out, briefly exercised, and locked up again.
It seems that at Bristol, sombody is waking up to the concpt that teaching is an art, and that the art that is demanded at present is effectively teaching to the standards that are being established.
Are we moving towards a national curriculum? Of course. Should we? Given the mobility of the population, it seems to fit the need.

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