In a President's Day op-ed, Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews makes a simple but strong case for that well-worn phrase, "teaching to the test," which has, according to Mathews, been undeservedly slandered. A Google search of "teaching to the test" yields over 59 million hits, almost all of which are negative. But Mathews rightly points out that when teachers teach to their own tests, nobody has a problem-people trust that individual teachers have students' best interests at heart. But it is individual teachers, thousands of them (who presumably still have students' best interests at heart), who design the state tests that elicit such ire. And teachers aren't actually teaching to tests anyway; they're teaching to state standards. Very few people are against standards-based education, because having standards simply makes sense. If we weren't so busy playing semantic games, Mathews explains, we could "instead turn the discussion to what methods of instruction work best or how much time our children should spend studying." Of course, that's much less fun than throwing bombs and making speeches.
"Let's Teach to the Test," by Jay Mathews, Washington Post, February 20, 2006