Reacting to an increasing emphasis on test results in the evaluation of the British educational system, a recent study suggests,
Teaching to the test has become endemic, sapping the enthusiasm of teachers and pupils alike. As the Cambridge review finds, the result, in too many cases, is a new form of rote learning in which pupils memorise the answers that are required, without understanding the hows and whys. Professor Alexander argues that standards and breadth are not incompatible and pleads for the return to the curriculum of creative subjects and approaches that have been progressively squeezed out by the requirements of testing. He goes so far as to suggest that stressing standards above all else is actually counterproductive to raising those very same standards, because a sterile focus on tests can have the effect of depressing achievement, while a broader approach can foster an additional measure of interest and enthusiasm that raises standards of its own accord.This is one of the things I find worrisome about "No Child Left Behind", or charter schools that "improve the performance" of inner city kids through rote learning exercises. Improving test scores is not the same thing as improving education. In some cases, it's not even the same thing as teaching. And yet it's what many want to use as the primary or sole measure of effective teaching.