Scott writes on Leader Talk:
“Rather than the joy of wrestling with and thinking about new material, students suffer through yet another hour ‘learning’ old information. Rather than working with children who are eager, interested learners, teachers suffer through yet another group of disengaged students…I wonder why we don’t care more about this? It’s one thing to cover the required curriculum. It’s quite another to have students cover the curriculum despite the fact that they already know it.”
I would have to agree that much of what we have as education today is a “one size fits all”. A student is <insert age> years old and in the <insert month> month of <insert grade> grade. Therefore, they should be studying <insert topic here>. This is just another example of the assembly line model of education in America. So the question is, how do we make this change? The funny thing is, this is not unique to the K-12 environment. I have also seen this in the higher education arena. Take advance degree programs. There are times when a student might have the skills and knowledge to teach one of the core classes in their discipline. Yet, the university makes them take the class rather than allow them to augment their learning experience.
Pretesting also serves another purpose (which Scott also alludes to). You establish a baseline of knowledge for the students in a class that then allows you effectively measure the effect of the curriculum.
Finally, and this is the best part in Scott’s post, you demonstrate a respect for prior knowledge held by the students. I am reminded of the concept of starting with the end in mind. Grant Wiggins goes so far as to suggest that you give your students the final exam questions on the first day of class.