George H. Wood questioned whether teachers should "teach to the test" in his keynote address Thursday about state assessments and standardized tests and what they miss.
The address kicked off Heidelberg University's inaugural Education Summit, which continues today.
The summit, "Assessment: Teaching to the Test or Teaching for Learning?," is being presented by Heidelberg's School of Education.
"Education, at times, should make you uncomfortable," Wood said. "I want to be clear on what idea I hope you leave here with. Teachers, you all can make a powerful difference. It's not about the test that matters; it is what sort of citizens students are after they graduate."
Wood discussed three things about tests that he wanted to present to teachers, first to explain about the test, what tests miss and what teachers can do.
"Tests describe students' quality and performance," Wood said. "The problems that tests face is the purpose of the test."
Stakes are too high for tests, Wood said. There is too much pressure involved, tests become trivial pursuits and tests are becoming harder and harder and that has led to narrow instruction.
"Tests miss who the students really are," Wood said. "Tests miss students' artistic abilities, their sense of humor, problem-solving abilities, understanding the way the world works, and what tests miss is students' despair or rebellion."
There always will be a new set of tests, Wood said.
"As teachers, we need to learn how to test-proof our kids and teach kids how to handle the work," Wood said. "Engage kids in education and they will learn for themselves. Teaching is not a science, it is not an art it is a craft."
Wood is a former Ohio University education professor currently serving as superintendent and high school principal of Federal Hocking Local Schools in Stewart.
"I love working with kids," he said. "They fascinate me. They're cool and a lot of fun."
According to a release provided by the university, Wood serves as executive director of the Forum for Education and Democracy. He is the author of "Time to Learn: How to Create High Schools that Serve All Students," "Schools that Work: America's Most Innovative Public Education Programs" and "Many Children Left Behind," which he co-authored with Deborah Meier.
Co-sponsors of the summit are the alumni organization, Friends of Heidelberg Education and Kappa Delta Pi, the education student honorary.