Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In the Long Run We're All Dead

Geoff Decker:

One mother said she saw a sharp contrast between P.S. 8, the Brooklyn Heights school her son attends, and the Brownsville elementary school where she is a teacher. P.S. 8 teachers emphasize critical thinking and creativity, she said, but the school where she works does not.

“Our curriculum, as dictated by our principal, is all year long focused on test prep,” said the teacher, who declined to give her name or the school where she worked. “Since February 20, which is the day after we got back from break, every single day my students sit through two ours of testing.”

Polakow-Suransky said a curriculum that focused on drilling and test prep was unlikely to pay off in higher test scores. “It’s failed wherever it’s been tried,” he said.

The teacher interrupted him to say that hasn’t been her school’s experience, at least according to the metrics that Polakow-Suransky himself has engineered. “I should add that my school gets an A every year,” she said.

The irrational and self-defeating nature of "drilling and test prep" seems to be an increasingly important talking point, and I think it is bogus in the short to medium term. In the long run, clearly, it doesn't work or we'd have many more successful urban high schools than we do. In the meantime, lots of elementary and middle schools have boosted their scores quickly through test prep.

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