High-stakes testing

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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In her column April 16, Pat Hardy makes some assertions hardly anyone could disagree with -- kids need to be exposed to social studies for a myriad of good reasons. (See: "Reducing social studies will stunt Texas students' growth as citizens")

But her argument is based on one assumption: Unless we tie social studies instruction to high-stakes testing, kids won't learn.

In other words, de-emphasize testing and you de-emphasize learning.

Just maybe it's the other way around. Perhaps if we de-emphasize teaching to the test, teachers will be free to explore -- and students to learn -- about history and geography and government.

And maybe social studies would become an island of real learning in a sea of test preparation drills.

Perhaps social studies could become a kind of pilot project in schools to demonstrate what happens when we focus on learning and on children and not on test scores.

High-stakes testing, as well as the teaching methodologies that go with it -- not classrooms that emphasize critical thinking and engage students in genuine learning -- is what dumbs down the curriculum.

-- Tommy Thomason, Arlington

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