National Writing Project

What Standardized Tests Miss

Publication: Mother Jones
Date: May 25, 2011

Summary: Robert Roth, a teacher-consultant with the Bay Area Writing Project, looks for creative ways to teach high school history in the face of increasing pressure to teach to standardized tests.


Excerpt from Article

In 2005, when Roth was teaching at Thurgood Marshall High School, a consultant from California's Department of Education came in to observe his classes and suggested to him that he concentrate less on writing assignments like these and more on multiple-choice exercises to prepare for the standardized test. "After all," Roth recalls being told, "the test has no writing component."

"If California is serious about measuring real student achievement, we have to ask students to show what they understood about why an historical event took place, and how that connects to their lives," Roth argues. He is resisting the pressures to cut out project-based learning like the Tulsa Race Riot or cut out reflections on the civil rights or discuss the implications of the 14th Amendment on immigration today.

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