“When you try to measure people’s performance, you have to take into account how they are going to react. Inevitably, people will figure out how to get the number you want at the expense of what you are not measuring, including things you can’t measure, such as morale and customer goodwill.” – Joel Spolsky

This applies to state-mandated standardized tests like the TAKS (used to be TAAS) test.

Teachers are now expected to do whatever it takes to ensure that their students pass the TAKS, or else… Consequently, teachers change their teaching style to teach to the test. Students who are deemed “at-risk” for failing the TAKS do nothing but TAKS-test-prep in whatever subject they are at risk for failing. The students who are not at-risk for failing also test-prep for the TAKS; they are taught nothing.

In the end, if a sufficient number of students pass, the teacher gets to keep their job.

By putting pressure on teachers to ensure that their students pass, or else go hunt for another job, school administrators are covering their own.

So, the state puts pressure on school administrators to ensure that their school passes the TAKS. School administrators in turn put pressure on teachers to ensure that their students pass the TAKS. Teachers are forced to become test-prep professionals, who’s job is to teach students how to pass the TAKS. If the test pass-rate is high enough, the teacher gets to keep their job, the school administrators get to keep their jobs and aren’t hounded by government agencies, and the state deems that school “recognized”… only the students haven’t learned anything except how to pass the TAKS.