Thursday, February 5, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

Out in L.A. (as reported by Gotham Schools) they've discovered that practice makes perfect. The research out there is showing that the more periodic assessments students take, the better their test scores will be. Let's take a second and really look at this.

First, if we really believe that tests measure student learning and that more tests help kids do better on tests, then shouldn't we stop teaching and just give two or three periodic assessments each day?

Obviously, I'm being facetious here, but isn't that kind of the logical conclusion of the study? Or rather, given that it's being used to justify using increasingly scarce education funding to continue the testing battery, isn't that how it's being used?

I don't think that there's much question that doing test prep helps kids on tests. Just like doing more reading helps kids read and practicing the piano makes them better piano players. The more you practice on a specific skill, the better you get at it. That strikes me as self-evidently true. That's also what makes it kind of frustrating to see all this attention poured into testing and practice testing and practicing for the practice testing. All of this is time that could have been spent actually reading or doing math (not to mention things like art or music).

If practice makes perfect, shouldn't we practice the things that actually matter?

No comments: