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TNLI: Action Research: Curriculum Implementation: Teaching to the Test and Beyond: Finding Academic Value in a Test Prep Curriculum


Following is the first page of Amy Kopchains Study. To read the full study, click the button to the right.

Teaching to the test is a frequently heard term among educators in the current test-driven culture. Standardized tests have become a driving force behind what and how teachers teach. What if teaching to the test did not mean teaching to simply raise scores but teaching the knowledge and skills that the test sought to measure? What if students could apply this learning after the test was over? In my classroom I researched whether a test prep curriculum could have value for my students beyond taking the test.

Background and Questions
I teach in an urban elementary school which has historically done well in standardized tests but had seen a drop of about !0% in last year’s scores. Of particular concern was the fourth grade English Language Arts test, a three day examination which consists of multiple choice questions, written short answers, and essays. There was considerable pressure on both the administration and teaching staff to do everything in their power to raise these scores. Therefore, last June my principal asked the upper grade reading teacher to design a test preparation curriculum for each grade level from three through six that focused on twelve comprehension strategies. The fourth grade curriculum would be taught by two to three teachers in each classroom for one hour daily from September to January (the month in which the test was administered). This curriculum required an investment of 25% of the classroom instructional time. I would be part of the teaching team in one of the fourth grade classrooms, but I would not teach students I normally work with..

I am a teacher of Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS), formerly known as a resource room teacher. As part of my assignment, I teach a group of four fourth graders and one third grader for 45 minutes a day in my own classroom. My students have been diagnosed as learning disabled and have all repeated one grade. I have worked with these students for two to three years previously which has given me the opportunity to understand the way they learn. I have always been given the freedom to design my instruction to meet their needs and interests.

Amy Kopchains

Research Focus:
Test Prep Curriculum

TNLI Affiliate:
New York City

PS 171 Patrick Henry
19 East 103rd Street
New York, NY 10029

If you would like to learn more about Teachers Network Leadership Institute, please e-mail Kimberly Johnson for more information.



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