article=the_test_generation expose first graders to Picasso and Matisse, then test them to show gowth in the student's understanding of art.
In the social sciences, there is an oft-repeated aphorism called Campbell's Law, named after Donald Campbell, the psychologist who pioneered the study of human creativity: "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." In short, incentives corrupt. Daniel Koretz, the Harvard education professor recognized as the country's leading expert on academic testing, writes in his book Measuring Up that Campbell's Law is especially applicable to education; there is a preponderance of evidence showing that high-stakes tests lead to a narrowed curriculum, score inflation, and even outright cheating among those tasked with scoring exams.
A number of state- and city-level studies from the No Child Left Behind era found that swiftly rising scores on high-stakes state tests were accompanied by appalling stagnation in students' actual knowledge as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the gold-standard exam administered to a sample set of students each year by the federal Department of Education. In 2005, for example, Alabama reported that 83 percent of its fourth-graders were proficient in reading, even though the NAEP found that only 22 percent of these children were proficient readers. The harsh punishments associated with NCLB had encouraged Alabama and most other states to dumb down their tests and then teach directly to them.
"The kind of motivation that results from pressure can get you certain kinds of test scores, but what happens is that the motivation and the learning don't persist over time," says Edward Deci, a social psychologist and expert on motivation. Deci has studied the effects of testing on teaching and learning since the early 1970s, and he is a firm opponent of tying teacher evaluation and pay to student test scores. "The kind of learning associated with pressure is rote learning, rather than conceptual learning," he says.
"He died for our sins" is a well known phrase, but ask a follow up question sometime [but make sure you have an exit strategy... I mean fire exits, too]