If test results were deconstructed to reveal that phonics, say, was a weak point in a classroom, there might be curricular value, but most of the time the tests are merely scored up or down for the sake of the system—and the press conferences. Teachers are under so much pressure to teach to the test that they are sometimes forced to move on hastily and concentrate on the narrow and tedious, to skip over the interesting side issues or questions that make for dynamic learning.
And what does this metastasizing testing, for every subject, at every level, at every time of the year, do to kids? It has to mean that students absorb the message that learning is a joyless succession of hoops through which they must jump, rather than a way of understanding and mastering the world.
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