Teachers teach to the test, students study to the test

Bookmark and Share

The DepEd is finally bidding adieu to multiple choice test. Better late than never, I must say. So my fellow math teachers, the next time you are required to make purely multiple choice items for periodical test or are given by the division, or by the regional office an achievement test in multiple choice, you can quote the following: Annex A – The Monitoring and Evaluation of the Implementation of the 2002 Basic Education Curriculum: Findings and Recommendations of the UbD-based 2010 Secondary Education Curriculum Guide for Mathematics 1 document released by DepEd. On page 9-10 of the said document you will find this report:

9. Teachers teach to the test, students study to the test.

The use of traditional assessment tools like the multiple-response, simple recall, recognition and application tests is predominant.  Rubrics, portfolios, and other forms of authentic assessment are not widely used.  Teachers are aware of the limitations of traditional tests and the need for alternative forms to measure higher order thinking skills.  However, they tend to resort to the traditional forms for several compelling reasons:

  • These are the types used in periodic and achievement examinations.
  • They are easier to score.  (Teachers teach as many as 300 to 400 students a day and scoring non-traditional measures like rubrics could be an ordeal.)
  • They are easier to prepare than the non-traditional forms like portfolios, rubrics, and other authentic measures.
  • These are what everybody else is using.
  • Teachers have inadequate knowledge of authentic learning and authentic assessment.

Documentary analysis showed that schools in general lack an institutionalized system of utilizing test results for diagnostic and remedial purposes.

Teachers tend to teach to the test; students tend to study to the test.  This culture is reinforced by supervisors who specify units to be taught and tested for each grading period and use test results more for judging rather than improving teacher and student performance.


Schools should review their present assessment practices.  The teacher appraisal system and the kinds of tests used in the classroom as well as those, in the division and national examinations, should be evaluated against the goals and objectives of the Basic Education Curriculum, among which is the development of critical thinkers and problem solvers.

Schools should also consider the use of alternative assessment tools and techniques that would provide opportunities for students to experience learning as an enjoyable, delighting process of inquiry, discovery, construction and creation of new knowledge, rather than as a tedious process of cramming to pass examinations.

While schools should double their efforts for students mastery of the basic competencies they should also never lose sight of the fact that their ultimate goal should be the development of functionally literate citizens of a democratic community.

I think the DepEd forgot to include another reason why teachers use multiple choice test. The sixth bullet should be: The National Achievement tests  in all subject areas are 100%  in multiple-choice type form and the test results are used more for comparing schools rather than as basis for developing programs for improving teaching competence and performance.

The day the National Achievement Test (NAT) of the DepEd will include constructed-response type questions should be declared a national holiday because it will really mark a turning point in the history of education in the Philippines.


8 Responses to Teachers teach to the test, students study to the test

  1. APC says:

    The Brent Schools in Manila and Bagiuo have the IB program. It’s a nice way to access student performance but quite time consuming to grade than traditional assessments . Student class size will be an issue for the teacher if he/she has more than 30 students per class.

    I’m from Manila but have been teaching here in Texas since 1992 and consider myself lucky I’m in a very progressive school that has smaller class sizes and encourage teachers to use alternative forms of assessments so I’m glad to see this is being discussed and practiced over there.

    My school is also big on collaborative projects for math students.

  2. APC says:

    If you’re familiar with the IB program, their assessments include two mathematical investigations. One based on data and one based on finding patterns and explaining how you came up with the solution and both are graded using a rubric. The final student grade is 50% internal assessments and 50% written exam with none of the questions in multiple choice form.

    I teach in a public charter school in Texas and we have state mandated standardized tests that determines funding for each school district.

    So it’s tough for my IB students when they first encounter open ended questions and problems that don’t require numerical answers but as you stated needs divergent thinking.

    BTW Thanks for having this wonderful website.

    • erlines says:

      Thanks. I’m not familiar with IB program but I wish our schools in this part of the globe will try mathematical investigation activities both to teach and assess mathematics.

  3. Hello,

    I would like to introduce you our website: http://www.goldstudent.com

    It is a fun, easy and effective online math enrichment and assistance program for students K-6. It is designed to help children improve their problem-solving skills, gain confidence in their math abilities and have fun while they learn.

    Please tell us what do you think.


  4. Bernardo says:

    Hi! Does this mean we should not use the traditional type of assessment anymore or we should just use it sparingly and carefully?

  5. webmaths says:

    You make some excellent points here! I totally agree. Unfortunately little or no value is credited to a teachers “intuitive” assessment of a student by observation, etc. “If you can’t test it, its not worthwhile doing”, is a nonsense I think.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: