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Teaching to the Test Watch

Earlier this year, Maryland quietly stopped its practice of allowing teachers to examine standardized test booklets up to two weeks before administering the exams, amid concerns of teachers abusing the privilege, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The practice was in place to provide teachers a chance to familiarize themselves with testing directions and the test procedures. A teacher was allowed to view a testing booklet with the school's testing coordinator in the room and could not bring a pencil or paper with them.

Teachers were not, however, supposed to examine the tests' content matter—which it appears some of them were doing, since the state's head of assessments began receiving phone calls from teachers about specific test questions.

"When you give teachers the test materials ahead of time, you put them at risk of making a bad decision," said Steve Ferrara, a research scientist at CTB/McGraw-Hill. "Teaching the content of the test item is inappropriate practice. It is not helping kids understand content."

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