The entire movement toward teaching-to-the-test can be boiled down to two achievement variables: comprehension and time – how much is learned and how long it took.
In almost every achievement metric, one of these variables is held constant – and the other is the variable of measure. So, the prevailing paradigm in almost all formal education is to hold time constant and have comprehension be the variable.
An important corollary to the achievement axiom often goes unnoticed; namely, if the established education has opted for lock-step instruction, then it has already opted for the paradigm of holding time constant and letting comprehension vary. Again, this is the prevailing paradigm in almost all formal education – teach a given unit to the entire class for a specified length of time.
Now, if the authorities infuse this system with a policy that ALL students must reach full comprehension by the end of the teaching schedule – all students must comprehend the unit by the end of the scheduled time – then there will be a conceptual shift throughout the institution: comprehension will morph into passing-the-test; and practice will morph into teaching-to-the-test. Continue reading “The Two Most Important Variables in Education”