## Thursday, March 31, 2011

### Twitter-like in Calculus

Recently I tried to embrace the idea of using twitter in my calculus class.  I used the website www.polleverywhere.com  this site can create a Twitter-like environment for my students.
Two essential ideas of calculus are deriving the slope at a specific point of a non-constant function, and determining the limit of a function at a point.  Without boring all my non-math followers, these are ideas which can be explained many different ways and some students have a trouble understanding them as they are quite abstract.
My students, in groups of 4, had to come up with the process of determining the slope and a limit at a point.  As I circulated through the class I noticed some groups had a lot of extraneous information on their page.  Trying to promote a concise solution, I loaded up the website and asked my students to take out their cell phones.
Each group had at least one person who had a cell phone with an unlimited text plan.  Students where then required to text in an answer, for both questions one at a time, using 140 characters or less.  I turned off my projector and gave my students time to think.
In the picture is one snapshot of the answers.
The learning did not stop there.  As a group, we went through the answers and critiqued them, adding any missing information, or taking out non-needed information.  I was amazed at the engagement and learning that occurred.  Students were even “googling” "when can you not find the derivative"; a concept that was going to be introduced later in the week.

Math is no longer "Page 46, the odds" out of a textbook.  If you put emphasis on repetition, in your math class, then I forewarn you that your students were learn to hate the repetitive nature you are asking them to do.  If you don't believe me, and you teach through repetition, I ask some small favour:  Ask your students if they find merit in your daily homework, and if you made the homework truly optional would they still complete it?

## Wednesday, March 30, 2011

### Working with Parents to Abolish Grading

Joe Bower is one damn good educator.  His blog can be found here

Many people have asked, "How do you get parents on board with abolishing grades?"  and here is his story:

### Working with Parents to Abolish Grading

Abolishing grading is both a worthy and challenging task. I'm often asked how parents react to it all. In my experience, for the most part, parents have been an easy sell.

Most parents are interested in how I do it, but none of them can really conceive how school can be done without grading. I often ask myself why this is - why can't adults envision school without grades?

There are probably as many answers to this as there are adults who ask the question, but I believe there is some truth in the idea that most of us parent the way we were parented and teach the way we were taught.

But you have to remember that school was likely just as frustrating for today's parents as it is for today's students. School hasn't changed very much. Tests and grades haven't changed very much. The game of school  prevails.

Parents may not know it, but we must remember that most parents are an ally in the move against grading - it's our job to remind them how it felt to be gamed by the fraudulent grading and testing machine. To remind them, I ask them these kinds of questions:
• Did you ever work really hard and learn a lot about something and receive a low grade?
• Did you ever slack off and learn almost nothing but receive a high grade?
• Can you think of someone you went to school with, and you knew they were really really smart, but always received low grades?
• Can you think of someone who received really really high grades but you knew they were a dolt and that they had, at best, a superficial understanding?
The whole idea here is to convince parents to see (remember) how grading is and was so inaccurate for them and that nothing has changed for their child. I have yet to speak with a parent who couldn't remember how this all felt. I tend to get head nods of strong agreement - even by those who are most suspicious of my no-grading policies. They get it - they just need to be reminded.

In the end, parents may not walk away 100% convinced that no-grading is the answer, but there is one more trump card here that has them leaving the interview satisfied and that is they know their child is learning. They know because for some reason, their child keeps coming home and talking about Mr. Bower and what we did in science or language arts today.

Their children are coming home saying they like school! Their children are reading more. They're asking questions and researching seemingly random stuff on the Internet. They are writing, talking and thinking about what we are doing in school.

How do parents know their children are learning? They don't need grades or test scores to know all this because they can see it with their own eyes.

Their children are happy, and so they are happy.

And that makes me happy.

## Tuesday, March 29, 2011

### Why are we being told what to think?

Many educators have asked the following question, and now I will as well; how did we ever come to believe that the bureaucrats, in a government office, should tell our children what to think?
To challenge this belief, educators will have to become innovators and show students that there is more knowledge than just what is required to know for a test.
We need to realize that students can teach themselves far more superior than any teacher ever could.  For most tasks, it much more important that the students “discover” the knowledge rather than being told of meaningless facts or algorithms.  When we push or force certain ideas onto students we might be actually teaching them to hate the intended outcomes instead of learning it.  For example, we can’t teach students to be creative but we sure can destroy creativity.
In its current paradigm, schools are producing compliant citizens who will have anticipated and controlled thoughts.  Students who stand up and ask “why” are labelled as insubordinates or trouble makers, and most likely are put in an alternate learning environment.  Those who follow all the rules given to them, complete school with the highest marks, and never question authority are not the learners we want in a country.  When a practical problem presents itself, to these students, they will seem lost and confused.
I’m 25 years old and have two college degrees.  I don’t know how to do anything.  I don’t know how to do anything at all.  If the fan belt of my car broke in a snowstorm out in country I’d freeze to death reciting the goddamn Pythagorean theorem” – Student who spoke up at a John Gatto speech.
The reason this is happening is due largely to the fact that the student, who has the highest marks, is usually learning information that another person deems necessary.  This information does not come in small controllable chunks but actually in large (sometimes in the 1000s) specific outcomes a teacher must cover.  To assure students achieve success, we must also assign work to be completed outside of school, so that these high end students don’t have a minute to explore anything they may have a passion or interest for.
Students are leaving our schools with their curiosity destroyed.  Anytime they wanted to explore an idea further, they are reminded, by the leader of the class, that this is neither the time nor place to do so.  Also, don’t forget the mass amounts of work to be completed outside of school; we should be asking “When is the appropriate time and place?”
We need to start realizing that our focus should be on passions, interests, creativity, and curiosity; if there is time after…..then we can focus on the mandated outcomes.

### Who is to blame: The teacher or the test?

Here are some comments about high stakes exams from a reader of my blog:

"You seem to think that you can absolve them of their responsibility by simply blaming the exams for their lack of humanity or professionalism.

About the alleged example of the teachers only feeding the kids properly on test days, I agree that it's disgusting (if it really is true); but it still isn't the fault of the test. It's the fault of the teachers who are displaying this appaling lack of humanity.

Blaming their unethical behaviour on the exam, and not on them, is what's disgusting.

As for your comment about "this implies that only these outcomes should be emphasized in the class? This sounds a little corrupt to me." - I never intimated that only those outcomes should be emphasized. In fact, I consider anybody who ignores the curriculum in favour of 'teaching to the test' to be incompetent and think they should be fired.

And yes, that incompetence is their fault, not the test's fault. "

Full conversation at "Mandated Exams..." and "Don't teach that, its not on the test"

I know open the floor, to any and all readers of my blog.  Am I out to lunch, implying it is the test that is forcing our hand here, or is it really the imcompetence of teachers?

## Monday, March 28, 2011

### Cheating or Collaboration

“We are not cheating, we are working together!”  This was a statement of a student who was accused of cheating at my school.  Just by walking by, I don't believe anyone could assess whether or not cheating or collaboration were occurring.
If as adults, we collaborate on most or all of our tasks in life, why do we require our students to work alone?  We should be promoting collaboration in our schools and not independence or even cooperation.  I have written about the difference between cooperation and collaboration here.
If you are truly worried about cheating in your class, here are easy and simple solutions to prevent it from happening:
·         Create open ended projects which allow the students to create and use autonomous strategies.  Once the “group” has decided on a certain path to take, students will want to be more accountable without extrinsic motivators.  Have these projects relate directly to the students’ lives through their passions or interests.  Once the student understands that it is a worthwhile problem, he/she will have more motivation to also understand how to solve it.
·         Have these tasks as low risk tasks.  This can be done by not assigning any marks to the project.  Put the emphasis on the work done, the learning achieved, and the final project presented, not on the mark given to the group.
·         If you are giving marks, have the students actively involved in the mark.  Ask them to evaluate themselves; listing both strengths and weaknesses of the completed project.  Allow for students to improve the mark by giving them comments (without marks at this point) as to what areas are needed for improvement.
The common argument to letting students collaborate on a project is: “The teacher won’t actually know how much each person knows.”  I am still not convinced that this statement is true.  I believe if you give students a well thought out collaboration project, students will learn the intended outcomes.
Teachers need to stop the requirement of marks and start looking more at a holistic idea of whether or not students understand the intended outcome.  I agree that teachers will not know the EXACT mark (ie: 92.5%) of a student through a collaborative project BUT….. Neither will they know it through a test!  Great teachers understand how poor and inaccurate test scores are to demonstrate how much learning has occurred.
Once, as an entire education system, we embrace the idea of not needing marks to assess students you will see how a collaborative project is a more effective tool than an individual traditional test.

## Friday, March 25, 2011

### Reboot Mathematics.

More on Schoenfeld “Good teaching, Bad results”
The first part can be found here.

Math teachers need to be focusing on deeper understanding and not rote memorization of procedures and algorithms.  A famous example, of the difference, comes from Werthemer and his observations of classroom sessions.

He witnessed students being taught the area of a parallelogram formula, which is derived from cutting a triangle-like piece off and calculating the area of a rectangle and triangle.  These students performed quite well as the lesson, and were able to answer all standard questions mathematically and in correct form.  However, when these students were provided with parallelograms in non-standard position, or to find the area of a parallelogram-like the students were confused.  These students had memorized the formula, steps and procedures but failed to truly understand calculating area.  With these type of understanding, these students would have no problem solving certain well specified exercises but in reality had acquired only the superficial appearance of competence.

The most extensive documentation of student’s performance on word problems, without understanding, comes from the third National Assessment of Educational Progress (Carpenter, Lindquist, Matthews, and Silver, 1983).  This exam gave 45 000 13-year olds the following problem:

An army bus holds 36 soldiers.  If 1 128 soldiers are being bused to their training site, how many buses are needed?”

72% answered the long division algorithm correctly, however
·          29% of them wrote the answer “31 remainder 12”
·         18% answered only 31 busses.
Therefore only 23% of the students answered the question correctly.

Math educators need to put more emphasis on the analysis of the answer.  Our students, who are capable of performing symbolic operations in a classroom context, demonstrating “mastery” of certain subject matter, often fail to map the results of the symbolic operations they have performed to the systems that have been described symbolically.  They also fail to connect their memorized algorithms to the “real world” application needed.  These two ideas are truly demonstrating a dramatic failure of math instruction.

After Schoenfeld conducted many other studies he concludes that students have created four beliefs about mathematics.

1)      The processes of formal mathematics (eg. “Proof”) have little or nothing to do with discovery or invention.  Corollary: Students fail to use information from formal mathematics with they are in “problem solving” mode.

2)      Students who understand the subject matter can solve assigned mathematics problems in five minutes or less.  Corollary: Students stop working on a problem after just a few minutes since, if they haven’t solved it, they didn’t understand the material (and therefore will not solve it)

3)      Only geniuses are capable of discovering, creating, or really understanding mathematics.  Corollary: Mathematics is studied passively, with students accepting what is passed down “from above” without the expectation that they can make sense of it for themselves.

4)      One succeeds in school by performing the tasks, to the letter, as described by the teacher.  Corollary: learning is an incidental by-product to “getting the work done”.

These beliefs sadden my heart greatly as both a math teacher and a math learner.  I dream of a school where instead of informing students of how dumb they are, they are reminded of their strengths and on these strengths, knowledge and wisdom are built.
How can this be done?
We need to realize that our primary goal of instruction and teaching is not to have students do well on an exam.  Instead we need to focus on students’ passions, interests, and life goals.  Teachers need to stop sacrificing understanding for the sake of accuracy and speed.  There is a HUGE difference between effective teaching and efficient teaching.
“Failure is an option and one that I want you to experience.” This should be a tag line for all classes.  Our Education Minister Hon. Dave Hancock said “If you are not failing, then you are not taking enough risks!”  We should be allowing students to fail, and show that, through failure, true success can occur.
Students need to be involved in their own learning.  Direct instruction only confirms to students information which someone “smarter” has already proven to be true.  When we run our math classes with “true discovery,” students must make their best guess, and then test it by trying it out and seeing if their attempt meets their own empirical standards.  This behavior will then be learned as an unintended byproduct of their OWN instruction.

## Thursday, March 24, 2011

### Don't teach that, "It is not on the test"

I have heard the following statements from different educators:

Why are you teaching that…it isn’t on the test!
Why do you need to know this?  Because it is on the exam!
If I don’t test, then I won’t know what a student knows!
These statements disgust me!
If you believe tests hold teachers accountable, here is my comment on that.
If you believe that tests cause students to learn material, here is my comment on that.
If you believe tests inform us what students know, here is my comment on that.
I have heard educators, who are required to test their students a month before the end of the course, say the following
Now that the exam is over, I am going to let you explore!”
It saddens my heart to know that we are required to teach the “boring” stuff to get through all the material for the exam, and after the exam we can then do the “fun” stuff.  Tests are robbing students from open-ended, deep meaning, and creative tasks.  The statement above is not an indictment to the teacher saying it, but actually the test that forces the teacher to teach as such.
Too many times teachers must tell their students that they are not able to discuss certain passions, due to the timeline of the course.  If these teachers don’t follow the timeline as such, there won’t be enough time to prepare them for the useless bubble sheet they will be provided with at the end of the course.
If you are still not convinced, in our province Gr. 3 teachers are required to teach 1352 outcomes, as all these outcomes will be tested on the provincial achievement exam.  Is this reasonable?
Don't think about thinking....its not on the test.

## Wednesday, March 23, 2011

### 4 ways to start thinking like a mathematician

1) Question everything
For me one of the truly great beauties of mathematics is that it can be checked. You don’t have to take anyone’s word. If someone says something is true, then you can ask them to prove it. Better still, if you want to really think like a mathematician, then you can try to prove it. Don’t let people spoon feed you!

Your reaction to someone’s statement should be to disbelieve them and attempt to find an example that shows it’s false. Even if it’s true, the mental workout that this process gives is beneficial. It also helps develop a feel for a statement. (Note that constantly doing this in real life situations can lose you friends - people tend to get upset if you are constantly finding fault with what they say!)

A letter to a newspaper stated that time travel is impossible because of logic: If time travel were possible, then one would meet lots of people from the future. I had some ideas why this might be wrong. Maybe time travel will only allows us to travel forward in time (by amounts larger than we do already!) Maybe time travellers are not allowed to communicate with us. Maybe time travel has a range, you can’t travel back more than a year and time travel is still a number of years away (and time travel machines can’t be transported).

2) Write in sentences
Write in sentences? How is that going to help me think like a mathematician, you may be asking. Well, sentences are the building blocks of arguments. And higher-level mathematics is about arguments in the form of proof (not just about getting the right numerical answer!) .

Too often students don’t see the need for sentences. They often say things like ‘I didn’t come to university to write essays’, ‘But I got the right answer’ or ‘You know what I meant’. In the past they could submit a collection of unconnected symbols as homework and still achieve almost full marks. But if you want to understand mathematics and to think clearly, then the discipline of writing in sentences forces you to think very carefully about your arguments. If you can’t write the sentence properly, then probably you don’t
truly understand what you are writing about. That’s a great opportunity to learn more and develop your skills. And writing well in any subject is a useful skill to possess. [Bonus: One easy way to improve your mathematical writing and thinking is to know how to use the implication symbol =>]

3) Ask ‘What happens if. . . ?’
Good mathematicians like to ask ‘What happens if . . . .’ For example, what happens if I drop that assumption? By thinking about this we can see better why a result is true or why a definition is the way it is. Sometimes we can produce a new theorem by making the assumptions weaker!

4) Communicate!
When Sir Christopher Zeeman founded the Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick one of his key ideas for fostering a mathematical atmosphere was that the institute should have plenty of blackboards in the corridors – not just in the lecture rooms – so that people could talk with each other and explain their work. This would foster collaboration but crucially allow people to have their work tested by others.

The Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge went further with blackboards. They have them in the toilets and even one in the lift – which only serves two floors!

There are many advantages of communicating with others. Explaining your work forces you to think clearly. And you learn from others, they can find mistakes in your thinking or suggest ideas for solving a problem. You can even learn just from explaining. So get yourself someone to talk to. Don’t have one? Do a search.

Dr. Kevin Houston:
Obviously you don’t want my life story but do need to know I’m qualified to write this stuff. Well, I have a PhD in Mathematics from the University of Warwick, England and currently I am a Senior Lecturer at the University of Leeds, England. I’ve been teaching mathematics in one form of another to a variety of students since 1990.

## Tuesday, March 22, 2011

### The independent project

If you think students are going to stand by and watch their creativity be destroyed, you might want to watch this!

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

## Monday, March 21, 2011

### International Perspectives Conference.

Over the weekend I attended the conference: “International Perspectives on Education”.  Here were the following speakers and some quotes from each keynote.  Before you read below, make sure you are ready to hear some ground breaking material.
Andy Hargreaves: (born 13 February 1951) is the Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.
·         Classrooms aren’t just about learning.  They are also about caring and control.
·         It might be in our nature to endorse the deficiency model when we shouldn’t.
·         Your own contribution to things is what you can most control.
·         A time comes when silence is betrayal –Martin Luther King
·         Leadership is a collective responsibility
·         The true test of a school is how it treats the lowest people involved at the school.
·         Innovation is messy. Innovators are vulnerable to being labeled outcasts
·         Giving away the best of your practices and ideas forces you to continue to innovate and improve.
·         Is your superintendent the only one who travels around to see how others are doing education?
·         Great leaders employ people who are hard to manage not compliant robots.
·         Ontario is currently improving education under current measures of success but they're not innovating
·         To support true innovation takes very courageous leaders

Yong Zhao - Yong Zhao is currently Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education, College of Education at the University of Oregon, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE). He is a fellow of the International Academy for Education.

·         Creativity can't be taught but it can be killed
·         Students should invent a job, not find a job
·         Children are like popcorn. Some pop early, some pop late
·         Differentiation creates value.
·         All this energy has been spent on raising test scores & not nurturing creativity or any other aspect of human nature.
·         Not everyone is the same. Schools cannot teach everything.
·         The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones and the oil age will not end by running out of oil.
·         If you are offended by what I say... then get out
Pasi Sahlberg - is Director General of CIMO (Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation) in Helsinki, Finland. He has global expertise in educational reforms, training teachers, coaching schools and advising policy-makers in more than 40 countries. He has worked as teacher, teacher-educator, senior advisor and director and served the World Bank (in Washington) and with the European Commission (in Torino, Italy) as education specialist. His forthcoming book is titled “Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn about educational change in Finland”. He has PhD from the University of JyvÃ¤skylÃ¤ and is Adjunct Professor at the Universities of Helsinki and Oulu.
·         We should put more focus on teachers working with teachers.
·         We should be spending more time asking: How our pupil’s learn?

My own ideas from this conference:
·         Those who hate technology don’t truly know the power of it.
·         If you promote common assessment you are destroying the personalization of a student body
·         Standardization justifies those who don't know how to differentiate students
·         Not every student is the same so why are we testing them as such?
·         We should be personalizing education and stop standardizing students
·         Too many students are learning how stupid they are from our schools
·         Schools should capitalize on strengths and not punish students for having weaknesses
·         Do we want our students to have high scores or have high confidence?
·         When test scores go up we should worry because of how poor a measure they are of what matters –Alife Kohn
·         A great teacher is aware that measurements and scores are not always very accurate
·         Schools should be less about procedures and more about design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning.
·         If you are preparing students for the present you are already outdating them.
·         We need to stop preparing students for the final exam and start preparing them for globalization
·         If you’re not on the edge of innovation, you're taking up too much space.
·         Innovation and improvement are not necessarily opposites, in the highest efficient districts these ideas are the same
·         Don't label innovators as outsiders but instead the person trying to create a new more effective path no one dares to try
·         I want to see more failure, if you never fail, you don't take enough risks – Education minister Dave Hancock.
·         Grading justifies those who do not know how to truly engage students.
·         The person who decides what students learn in class should be the teacher not the bureaucrat who sits in an office.
·         Innovators should be welcomed with open arms not with closed doors
·         Those who say "it can't be done" need to get out of the way of those already doing it
·         A true leader can leave the team and no one will notice
·         Take marks out of schools and I fear some teachers wouldn't know how to assess their students.
·         Good schools - practice open mindfulness, give attention, enact ethic of care, and polish professionalism.
·         Standardization is more about compliance and killing creativity

·         Standardization meets the system’s needs at the cost of the child’s needs.
·         Standardization squanders talent.
·         Raising test scores and raising children have nothing to do with each other.
·         Grading is a system's need not a student's need.
·         Change is an opportunity to do today what others won't, so tomorrow you can accomplish what others can't.
·         Wishing tomorrow to be just like yesterday won't ever make today a better place
·         Student engagement has nothing to do with test scores
·         You can Google information but you can't Google wisdom
·         Courageous leadership has nothing to do with just following policy.
·         How can we embrace educational transformation in Alberta when we continue to assess with multiple choice?
·         If there is no good leadership there is no chance for a good teacher to grow and flourish

## Friday, March 18, 2011

### Mandated outcomes and truth behind high stakes exams

I listened to David Berliner’s keynote address at MACTE (Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher education).  I found myself nodding in agreement throughout his speech.
“The narrowing of the US curriculum, especially among the working class and the poor, even as the American people say they do not want this and it works against the best interest of American Industry
I feel the same way about the curriculum in my province.  Teachers are given scripts to follow so that the bureaucrats, many of whom do not teach anymore, can say “We know students are learning something”.  What they feel to realize is that the scripts are more limiting and constraining the education system instead of liberating it.   Instead of having lessons focused on deep understanding and true critical thinking, teachers are forced to skim the surface of many topics.  Here is the sad truth behind the Biology 30 curriculum in my province.  I fear that many don’t want us to teach students how to critically think….because these students might actually do it!
“An educated person has the ability and inclination to use judgment and imagination in solving the problems that confront them at work and at home, and to participate in the maintenance of democracy”
Education should not be about teaching students skills, but actually showing them how to use such skills.   When we focus on procedural and conceptual ideas, but never talk about problem solving, students will only learn the WHAT part of outcomes and never the WHY.  There is a difference between students learning in a class, and wanting to learn in a class.
A student, who could correctly calculate the area of a rectangle, was asked “How much carpet is needed in a room 8 feet by 10 feet?” He replied with “How would I know?”.  This student answered 10 out of 10 questions on an exam no problem.  I would hope most would agree there is a problem!
Students who can remember facts, algorithms, and procedures, but never know when to apply them will be successful at Trivial Pursuit, but not at life.
A quote from Charles Dickens Hard Times London
"Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!"

"In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but Facts!" The speaker, and the schoolmaster, and the third grown person present, all backed a little, and swept with their eyes the inclined plane of little vessels then and there arranged in order, ready to have imperial gallons of facts poured into them until they were full to the brim
The sad reality is that some educators believe it is as easy as the opening heads up and we can just pour facts in.  This quote is 120 years old, and still some classes and tests are designed this way.
We can also go back further to:
"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." -- John Adams

Schools need to start giving students liberty and stop the perputation of mandating students to take certain courses!
In 1975 Campbell stated the following law:
"The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."
And follows his law with..
"achievement tests may well be valuable indicators of general school achievement under conditions of normal teaching aimed at general competence. But when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways. (Similar biases of course surround the use of objective tests in courses or as entrance examinations.)"

When any indicator, such as high stakes exams, take on too much value it corrupts the people who deal with these indicators.  I believe this is what is currently happening in our education system.  I fear that, in some schools, the quality of instruction from a teacher is judged, not by classroom experiences, anecdotal comments, students’ experiences, but solely by their high stake exam marks.  As by Campbell’s law, such scrutiny around these scores is causing the teachers, and administrators, to become corrupt.  The corruption can be seen by “test prep”, or “teaching to the test”.  Imagine how much learning could occur if every minute spent on preparing students for an exam was spent on teaching a deeper understanding of a concept.

This now brings the validity of high stakes exams into question; the higher the stakes the higher the corruption but the lower the validity.  Due to the high stakes on some exams, teachers are forced to start seeing their students as “Test successors” and “Test suppressors”, not as students.  Schools have actually been caught giving certain classes certain teachers, based on their potential to pass a high stakes test.  Now a scary example,

“Kevin, who is a high achiever and suffers greatly from Asthma, was writing a high stakes government exam.  During the test, Kevin is having troubles breathing and asks to leave.  The teacher asked Kevin to first complete his exam then take care of his asthma”

There is a school in Virginia that realized if they fed their students breakfast, through a free breakfast program, they achieved better during the day.  This school, on high stakes testing days, gave the students an extra 100-200 calories at breakfast and the scores increased by 8 points.  Sadly, after test week, the school went back to the old breakfast program.
This school understands the merit behind eating healthy in the morning, but only provides a sufficient amount of food during test week.  This is similar to farmers fattening pigs before taking them to market….DISGUSTING!
This is what happens when we see students as scores and data and not as people.