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Monday's Wake Up Call: Lasting benefits of teaching to the test?
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Reading First 1
Leslie Renken/Peoria Journal Star
First grade teacher Susan McCabe high-fives 7-year-old Sanyah Morris after she did well on her weekly DIBELS test at Tyng School Thursday morning. DIBELS, which stands for Dynamic Early Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, helps teachers track reading progress and pinpoint areas that need intervention.
Jan. 16, 2012 12:01 a.m.

Whether it's No Child Left Behind or Obama's Race to the Top, our teachers are measured these days on how successfully they teach to standardized tests. A study on the long-term value of teachers reported in the New York Times raises questions about our country's approach to education. Find out ways to localize the study for your town.

The study linked test scores with teachers to measure a teacher's value. Students of high-value teachers were:

  • Less likely to become teenage parents.

  • Likely to attend a good college.

  • More likely to live in higher socioeconomic ZIP codes at age 25.

  • More likely to have higher annual incomes at age 28.

Sounds impressive, right? But the study -- in order to measure long-term effects -- started back in the 1990s and followed kids into their late 20s. That means the tests were given before the pressure was on to measure performance, according to the New York Times story. How would kids do in today's stressful testing environment? We'll have to wait and see.

Ideas for localization:

  • Do your teachers, unions and school administrators support our country's emphasis on standardized testing to measure not only student ability but teaching ability? Check with educators, as well as parents and older students, too.

  • Speak to people in higher education about their theories on standardized testing to see if they think children will ultimately gain from the emphasis on the tests. How much do colleges in your area use standardized tests such as the SAT for admissions? What other criteria do they explore?

  • Run a poll on your website to see if your readers support standardized tests and whether they think children will benefit from them in the long run.


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