Teaching to test fails, US should adopt other method


Artwork by Brynly Wilson

Chioma Iheoma, Opinion Editor

This past summer, the U.S. dominated the other countries in athletic ability at the olympics. However, when it comes to educational ranking, the U.S. doesn’t even make it to the podium. American students are not matching up with other first world countries, and this stems from education practices that should be adjusted.

In 2010 the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development held a test in 65 countries that tested 15 year olds on reading, math, and science. The U.S. was ranked fourteenth. If America wants to remain a “superpower,” education has to change.

The U.S. Department of Education and Maryland State Department of Education should not fix the curriculum just to compete with other countries, but also to enhance the minds of young people. Average SAT scores for Writing and Critical Reading have declined since 1972. This is unacceptable considering the scores of students in other countries are continually increasing.

The main problem with American education in comparison to countries with higher scores is the style of teaching.

The current American curriculum teaches to the test. This means that tests are formed that cover all of the information the government would like children to know. This results in students learning information but only retaining it for a short period of time. The top countries teach for common knowledge and not just for a grade. This helps students retain the information as they move forward in their education.

As a preparatory school, JC should praise teachers like math teacher Jean Willan who teach students according to what she knows they will need in college. Teachers should teach more for the future and less for a test.

The “No Child Left Behind Act” promoted “teaching to the test” when it was passed so that teachers in lower ranking schools were required to teach their kids by a set curriculum. This, however, is not helpful for the country as a whole.

Fallston, the highest ranked Harford County school, according to schooldiggers.com, is ranked at just 34 out of 182 Maryland public schools. Harford County as well as JC should discourage teaching to the test in order to move up the ranks.

The problem with teaching to the test is that teachers teach at a different pace. Even though they “teach to the test,” some move at a slower pace depending on their students’ ability to retain information. A blanket test that covers a wide span of classes sets back students who weren’t prepared for that exact test.

While Maryland may be leading the United States in education, that is not enough. U.S. scores are average in comparison to the rest of the developed world. According to the Gaurdian.co.uk, students in South Korea, the highest ranked country, or Canada, the third ranked country, have longer school days or school terms and teach through different methods. The only way the U.S. can rightfully own its spot on the podium is by radically changing the education system.

Chioma Iheoma is an Opinion Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.