Thursday, February 28, 2013

What is “test prep”?

After a day’s consideration, I’m inclined to stick with my definition of “test prep”: single-mindedly pursuing higher test scores at the expense of other values that are cumulatively more important.

I don’t yet know Jason Glass’s definition, but in his comment to my last post, he says that “simple fact/recall, memorization of likely test facts, guessing strategies, and test time management strategies” would qualify. Under his definition, apparently, it can’t be “test prep” if the school is using strategies and programs that he considers “evidence-based,” regardless of what other values are sacrificed in the process. (Never mind for the moment whether the “evidence base” consists of anything other than test scores.)

By contrast, I think a school that focused exclusively on tested qualities, to the neglect of untested and untestable qualities, would fairly be called a “test prep academy.” If lunch were cut to almost nothing, recess and “specials” eliminated, the school day extended, and the kids made to sit through nothing but reading programs that Glass considers “evidence-based” all day with little or no down time, all for the sake of raising literacy scores, I would call that test prep, even if those scores accurately reflected real gains in literacy. Apparently he would not.

Of course, we can disagree on the semantics. Maybe what I’m describing would better be called “edu-myopia,” or some such term. In any event, I’m happy to agree that what Glass is describing is a more limited phenomenon than what I am describing, however you might label the two. I wish he would agree that both phenomena should be avoided.

1 comment:

@educatoral said...

And there is the problem with education today. The Jason Glasses of the world see their testing/test prep, "evidence-based," data collecting, measuring reforms as what education needs (although few if any of them want that for their own kids!), and the rest of us agree with you. Since those of us who agree with you are parents, teachers, and students it's really sad that the Jason Glasses are the ones getting their way.