Teach for Australia would develop standardised literacy and numeracy tests for the Fellow to assess their students. These would be short, low-stakes tests conducted every month that track each student’s performance in the key skill areasI think this needs to be discussed and fleshed out a lot more. The main potential problem of teaching to the test is rote learning - knowing an answer is "correct" but not understanding why it is correct or how that knowledge might be applied in some sort of variation of the theme or "real life" situation.
... we need a no-excuses, unrelenting focus on performance in Australia’s remote schools. Monthly tests in literacy and numeracy are a key mechanism to achieving this. Good teachers, of course, are likely to do daily or weekly mini-tests (in addition to the monthly tests) to gauge student progress and determine areas of weakness.
Will this mean that the Fellows will simply ‘teach to the test’? Quite possibly, but if the tests are well constructed and properly assess the knowledge that students are supposed to learn, then ‘teaching to the test’ presents no difficulties.
- Teach for Australia
Of course there is a huge literature on this and the curriculum wars rage on unabated. Here is one example, from many:
... many children who correctly answered pencil-and-paper fraction questions such as 5/11 x 792 = q could not pour out one-third of a glass of water, and of those who could, only a small proportion had any idea of what fraction of the original full glass of water remained.My view is that good teaching methodology is a continuum from constructionist to instructionist and teachers have to walk the walk along the whole of that continuum.
- Fractions: A Weeping Sore in Mathematics Education
Related: Noel Pearson's "radical centre" concept applied to education