Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #170
Teach to the test.
Yep, you read that right.
This one I stole from none other than Michelle Rhee.
Here is what usually happens to me when I have a test coming up: it’s the night before the test (or if I’m really lucky and I’ve adhered to the time management matrix from tip #140, it’s a couple nights before the test) and I’m sitting at the dining room table putting the test together.
I’ve done this so many times, I can’t even count them all.
And if I’m not making up the test from scratch, I’m certainly tweaking it, such as removing the matching and adding in essay questions out of guilt.
The next day, I’d hand out the test and then the comments would start: “We didn't go over this!” and “What do you mean by this essay question?”
Sure enough, as I looked at the question, they were right. I had intended to cover that aspect of To Kill a Mockingbird. And, in fact, I did cover that aspect. It was just the pervious semester. When you teach Mockingbird upwards of 20-30 times, you tend to lose track of what you mention from semester to semester.
So when I read Rhee’s comments about designing the test first and then teaching to it (and I know “teaching to the test” is a dirty phrase in education circles, but if you design the test and it’s a good test, what is wrong with