What Gets Tested, Gets Taught

If you want to change education, you've got to change the tests. In every school there are tests and most are testing the wrong things. This is never more evident than in language learning.

Present Perfect Tense

Without consulting google, I have no idea what an adverb does. I have no idea what perfect tense means. And what is a verb conjugation? I have no idea what these things are yet I'm fluent in English.

Many hours are spent on grammar rules and word lists because they are quantifiable. That is, they are measurable. If last week I could translate 100 words and this week 150, I must be better at my target language right?

This kind of thinking has created tests that determine understanding of grammar rules and translated word count but do nothing to measure pronunciation, understanding of concept or speed of response. Or as we talked about in Payap's Marketing class, students have memorized SWOT, and I'm sure can give you a detailed response for each letter but they have no idea how to use it.

Creating tests that measure grammar rules and word count is easy. It's much more difficult to create a test that measures pronunciation or speed of response.

What Gets Tested, Gets Taught

Teachers will teach what the administration will test. Even if things could be taught better no teacher will have her students fail standardized tests. It will destroy the student's confidence and make the teacher look incompetent.

If we want to change education we have to first change the tests. Maybe there should be no tests at all. Most subjects would be better "tested" with projects and not true/false, multiple choice tests.

Only once the tests have changed will the teachers start teaching differently. But take care when creating the new tests, because they'll just teach to those...