Number of times taking certification tests=quality as a teacher?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by swansong1, May 19, 2015.

  1. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I have been wondering about all these tests that teachers have to take to become certified (they didn't have them when I received my certification).

    Many posters talk about taking the tests time and time again. I was under the impression that the tests gauged your content knowledge of the area you want to teach.

    So, does it show a correlation into the test takers ability to perform as a teacher?

    Or, are the tests nonsense, like many states standardized tests?
     
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  3. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I'm surprised by the multiple testing sessions. I've never had to take one myself but I also had the impression that they gauged content knowledge.

    While I'm sure many will say that test anxiety comes into play, I doubt that true test anxiety affects that many people.
     
  4. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    They mostly test your ability to take a test, with a fair level of dumb luck.

    When I took the NYS Music CST, I had been out of school and away from music for 2 and a half years, and did virtually no studying for the test (I more or less took it as a spur-of-the-moment thing). So it sure is lucky for me that the listening section happened to include two songs I had performed in college, and the essay section was almost a word-for-word match for an assignment I had to do for my choral conducting class.

    Any type of content test for math is a different story, but I think for tests involving reading, science, social studies, or content areas, I'd expect scores to be pretty variable depending on the specific questions asked.
     
  5. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I don't think there's much of a correlation between test scores and teaching ability. Core knowledge of a content area might be reflected, but not the type of teacher the person would be. I scored really high on the test I took way back when, but the type of questions I remember were ridiculous. There were questions about art and some seriously silly questions. I went to college with a girl who seemed such a natural teacher. We did some of our methods together at the same school. She failed one part 3 times, all pretty badly. She gave up. That makes me sad still. It's just a test, not a measure of the quality of the person.
     
  6. justwanttoteach

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    Speaking as a person who had to take certain NCLB compliance tests multiple times. I can whole heartedly say that these test have no idea of saying whether or not I am an effective teacher!! Look at your current students there are several students who have a grasp on the content but can't test to save their life.

    I think these tests sounded great on paper. However, these tests also do damage. They weed out people who could be great teachers but don't want to or can't afford the testing process. (I graduated with honors for my masters degree...but was held back from student teaching because I struggled to pass a test!) I have since passed and completed all requirements. Remember Each testing session cost anywhere from 40 to 150$. That's a lot of money for some of us.

    I am sure these tests do measure some level of content knowledge understanding...but they also severely effect struggling tests takers self confidence and esteem. What was they taught us in teacher prep programs? "Effective teachers use multiple forms of assessments, and sprinkle them throughout their teaching"

    These tests seem to contradict that in my opinion. I think these tests are a money making scheme and complete waste of time. Filling out a scantron correctly does not determine how well I will relate to students, how I will identify needs, and how I will make content relevant. Ok end of rant.
     
  7. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I understand students failing content knowledge tests, as some of those are quite difficult. However, I do not understand someone who wants to go into education failing a general knowledge test. Most of those test at about the 8th grade level. I would hope that anyone going into education would have no trouble passing an 8th grade test.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree.

    I might be willing to accept a one-time fail due to being unfamiliar with the format or time limit or something like that. Beyond that, though, I think that most teachers and future teachers ought to be able to pass these tests fairly easily.
     
  9. justwanttoteach

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    Really? I am pretty certain at no time EVER between the 1-12grade was I taught about transcendentalism or the various dialects of language or to what degree a non native speaker will learn English as a second language. Nowhere in either undergrad or graduate school was I taught these things either. I learned while studying for the test. To tell someone that "they should pass or are expected to pass easily" is like telling a math student who has never been taught certain concepts that "since they know how to use the basic functions of a calculator they should pass easily." You can't paint everyone with the same brush! It just doesn't work!
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm sorry that your academic experiences may have been less than ideal. Even so, I was taught those things, as were many other people. Things that I didn't learn about in school, I read about in books and through my own studies. I don't feel like I went into those tests unprepared.

    Those tests usually make no secret about what is going to be on them. If you have a gap in your education about a particular topic, then it's fair to have to study that content prior to taking those tests. That's how tests work. To have to take the same test 5 or 6 or 10 times before passing demonstrates, to me, either a serious lack of content knowledge, a serious lack of study skills, a serious lack of testing skills, or some combination thereof.
     
  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Just plain learning skills imo
     
  12. justwanttoteach

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    My issue lies in this: each time you take these test you are given different questions or versions. If it were merely a matter of learning the questions and answers it wouldn't be an issue. Trying to become a self taught expert on these subjects worthy of building an on target answer to varying degrees of depth is a challenge. Especially for students who didn't major in the content they are testing in. Would we agree that as a student progress in their education the More in depth and complex the content becomes? Students who major in the subjects they are testing are exposed to the content multiple times throughout their education. Whereas, students like me who didn't major in said content area was introduced to things via study guides and prep classes. It's unnerving and overwhelming to decide how In depth and how much of content presented in these you will cram into your brain. The test websites give you an idea as to what's on them....but they don't tell you how in depth it goes. What specifically do I need to know about transcendentalism? Just what it is? Just who wrote this way? When they wrote this way? Do I need to cram every piece and excerpts from into my brain to quote? What about authentic approach to literature? Or formative ? I mean seriously there is a ton of Information to learn...by yourself...for the first time..
     
  13. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    My state had a general content knowledge test that all pre-service teachers had to take. It had a reputation of being extremely easy. I'm a very confident test taker (scored in top 2% on ACT and SAT), so I didn't study at all, stayed up very late the night before, and didn't eat anything. I wasn't at my best.

    When I arrived at the test, I found out that they had revamped the entire thing to make it much more difficult. I took the test and was shocked at how difficult it was. I barely passed.

    For that year, the test was really difficult. Many, many teachers (specifically early childhood education teachers) in my program dropped out because they couldn't pass the test.

    After so many teachers failed, the state went back to the old test.

    So, in short, I think standardized testing for teachers can be just as complicated as standardized testing for students.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I feel like if you're going to be teaching content to students, you need to be an expert in that content. The wheres, hows, and whys of your exposure to that content are irrelevant, as are the struggles and challenges you might have faced along the way. You need to know the content, plain and simple. My feeling is that if you can't pass a basic skills test for teachers in a particular content area (assuming you have no documented special need with regard to testing), then you are not an expert in the content and shouldn't be teaching that content to students.
     
  15. justwanttoteach

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    I DO have a documented disability...(epilepsy). Imagine you learned all the content. You were prepped and ready to go. The day of the test comes and that morning your so stressed out you had a seizure. Now imagine that all of the content you learned has been wiped from your memory almost as if you never learned it. This is what a testing experience is like for me. This happened multiple times. (Hence my belief that varying ways to demonstrate content is important)

    There are entire sections of my life that I don't remember because of seizures. I am told I played soccer as a kid....don't really remember it though. I am told I have been to Hawaii..again thanks to reoccurring seizures, who knows if this is true?

    Understand, I am sure no ones intention was to offend me or any other multiple time test taker. You gotta know that for us who struggled and persevered when many others opted to quit it is highly insulting to be told "you should have passed easily". It insinuates we are "less than" those first time passers. It insinuates that all the time we spent with our head In The books, time away from our families, money on classes, books, and time we spent doesn't count. It implies we will never be as good as the first time test passer. To that I say WATCH ME!
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    You obviously feel very passionately about this topic and take comments personally. Fair enough. Please understand that you have misquoted me (if it was indeed my comment that you were quoting). By misquoting me as I believe you have done, you've assigned a lot more baggage to my comments than is actually present in them.
     
  17. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I am not talking about content area tests. Those are difficult, and may take multiple times to pass. I am talking about the general knowledge tests that are designed to test basic competency in reading, writing, and math. These often test skills at about the 8th grade level, and in some cases you can place out of them with ACT or SAT scores that are high enough. Those are the tests that I think teachers should easily be able to pass, because anyone who has completed any college degree program should have basic skills that line up with 8th grade (or even high school) skills and teachers in a classroom should certainly have these skills. Obviously, testers with disabilities that allow for them should receive all necessary accommodations, which hopefully minimize the number of times needed to take the tests.

    I admire anyone who works through adversity, and I wish they didn't have to work so hard. I still worry when someone who has completed a college degree cannot pass a basic skills test if testing with appropriate accommodations. Again, I'm not talking about the content area or the "how to teach" tests (the old English PLT test was ridiculous! I almost failed that one, given one hour to answer two huge essay answers...)
     
  18. justwanttoteach

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    Caesar I apologize if I come off accusatory. I just wanted to offer some perspective. No harm no foul. Have a good day all
     
  19. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Bluntly, if you can't remember it to pass the test, how can you remember it to teach it? I admire persistent, but have issues with teachers who can't pass the elementary ed exams, and yes, I have taken them, so have some idea of what is on them. Remember, you don't have to know the answer to every question, only about 70% of them. That 70% is lower than what we accept to show comprehension on assessments we administer. Around here the norm is more like 75%.

    I am sorry for people with medical conditions that make passing the tests hard for them, but as a parent, I prefer competence.
     
  20. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I don't believe so. Taking the Praxis tests (and passing them both the first time) was the easiest part of my entire teaching expierence.

    Anyone can pass a test (the Praxis to be specific here). That doesn't mean the person will make a good teacher. Just like I'm sure everyone that passes the Bar Exam is not a great lawyer.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I am so tired of this type of argument. No one said that passing the Praxis general knowledge test is the only skills needed to teach. To argue such shows a lack of thinking skills. However, general knowledge is ONE (if I could only make the word one blink) of the absolutely necessary skills needed in order to teach.
     
  22. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    I agree. Passing the Praxis (or other basic general knowledge test) certainly does not guarantee one will be an effective teacher. But NOT being able to pass such a test certainly would hamper one's effectiveness...
     
  23. TeacherNY

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    I guess the tests can weed out the weak candidates. There are enough people going to school for teaching that the weakest links are not needed. I passed all my exams with very high scores but I do remember some questions being extremely difficult so I just guessed but I knew enough of the answers that the few difficult questions weren't an issue.
     
  24. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I don't think anyone is arguing that having the knowledge isn't important. I think the question is, does. the ability to pass the test accurately reflect that knowledge. I watched a straight A student fail...resoundingly fail the LEAP test. I would never assume that one failure painted a true picture of her abilities. I refuse to accept that an adult, having the same issues doesn't get the same chance. Again, I didn't have those struggles. I am fortunate enough to always test well. That doesn't make me smarter than anyone. I just reason out answers well. I scored very high on the ACT and the Praxis. As evidence that test scores shouldn't be considered the ultimate measurement I offer my experience with the ASVAB. I took it, honestly to get out of class. (It's the army vocational ability test.) I blew the top off the mechanical part of the test and spent the next 3 or 4 years trying to convince the army recruiters that I knew next to nothing about motors/mechanics and had zero interest in working I them.
     
  25. Go Blue!

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    All I'm saying is that just because someone passes the Praxis, it does not mean that they will make a better/high-quality teacher. I don't see a correlation, IMO.

    That was the OP's question (I thought).
     
  26. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    No one test, interview, presentation, etc will ever give an absolute picture of a every person's ability. However, the Praxis has been normed on a large number of people, so, for the general population (barring the exception for the extreme exception) it does show that those taking it have an understanding of general knowledge (or enough general knowledge to think through the questions and come up with the right answer). So, I do believe it is an adequate measure to weed out those who are in general lacking general knowledge.

    ASVAB is an aptitude test. Apparently you have the aptitude to understand motors/mechanics even though you had zero interest and may or may not have had the manual dexterity to work on them. There is a difference between having an aptitude and a desire.
     
  27. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Basic-skills tests (PPST, Praxis I, Praxis CORE, WEST-B, VCLA, FTCE GK, CBEST) examine reading comprehension and writing skills plus, for all but VCLA, basic math. They're not about teaching and they don't pretend to be. THEA is less basic because Texas intends it as a substitute for SAT, but it's still testing skills that aren't specifically teacher skills (though Lord knows teachers need them, if for no other purpose than to write their cover letters).

    Subject matter tests (most Praxis II except PLT and TPA, WEST-E, most CSET, most Pearson tests) are primarily tests of content knowledge; the better ones test ability to reason in the subject area with questions that aren't merely exercises in regurgitating memorized factoids. One sees a sprinkling of questions that bear on teaching practice, but a good many of what look like questions about teaching scenarios are actually questions about content that happen to be framed in classroom terms.

    If these tests were chiefly intended to wash out the unworthy, the various states' teacher-certification organizations wouldn't allow unlimited retakes. They do, though. I'm tolerably convinced that this is intentional and that the tests' actual purpose is to indicate to unsuccessful takers that they've got some remedial work to do, whether in basic skills or testing skills or subject matter. I'm happy with that: people who say "I'm just a bad test taker" or "I just can't write" or "I'm just no good at..." say this, as often as not, because one or more teachers taught them to, and with the right intervention many of them can be helped and can go on to ensure that they don't expose their own future students to toxic messages.

    But I thoroughly endorse the proposition that the teacher who is short on subject-matter knowledge, other things being equal, will be less effective than the teacher with a firm grasp on the content.
     
  28. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This.

    Isn't there a comedian who said something like
    person A: I'm a bad test taker
    person B: you mean your stupid
     
  29. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    :thumb:

    I don't see how someone could ever think otherwise.
     
  30. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    I get people failing these tests, completely and wholly. Why? Because if the purpose was to actually gauge content knowledge they wouldn't cost $150.
    It's legalized racketeering. "Here, take a test of randomly generated questions that may or may not have anything to do with what you're teaching and that you will probably never teach anyway."
    I know this because 1/2 the questions on my test were never taught to me in school, either K-12 or college and I picked up from listening to family and friends or my wikipedia addiction.
    They want you to fail so you have to pay them more money to take it again. And it's legal.
    Hence, tests like that are legalized racketeering.
     
  31. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Are you talking about the basic skills test or content knowledge test?
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    The attitude that the tests are arbitrary (read "they can't be studied for") and a racket (read "they're rigged against the test taker") plays a huge role in people not passing.
     
  33. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    yes yes yes!!!
    Same thing applies to teachers attitudes towards standardized testing and students achievment.
     
  34. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    How do you recall every single thing that you were taught in your 16+ years of education? How do you know that you weren't taught them in school?

    And why is learning something on Wikipedia or from family and friends not valid? Shouldn't we learn things throughout our lives?
     
  35. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Huh? Please explain the connection between the purpose of gauging content knowledge and cost. How is it that the cost would be lower if the purpose was to gauge content?

    The questions aren't randomly generated. Questions are created and assigned to knowledge categories and difficulty levels. Questions are randomly selected out of specified knowledge categories and difficulty levels to create tests that assess specific content areas at different difficulty levels. Even though the questions aren't exactly the same for everyone, the areas and difficulty is in a statistically determined range. That is how the tests can be normed although there are different test forms.

    That isn't the testing company's fault. Our district doesn't teach grammar. They expect kids just to catch on. That is why our district's SAT scores in certain sections are in the dump. But, hey, who needs to know grammar? Should they get a pass on the SAT because the school system does a horrible job on grammar? The SAT shows exactly what it was designed to show. It is sad that the kids were done a disservice, but to blame the test is ridiculous.

    I don't buy this at all.
     
  36. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    A test will never show the entire picture of how well someone will manage a classroom, structure their lessons, differentiate, provide extra support, and work alongside coworkers/parents.
     
  37. kellzy

    kellzy Comrade

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    Uhh…were you taught how many ration tickets a pound of sugar cost during WW2? Because I’m pretty sure the extent that is ever taught in school is, “During WW2, Rationing was a thing.” I’m 99% certain that I picked that one up from my grandma and her sisters who remembered rationing. That was on my test. Or how many feet of snow got dumped on the Donner Party? On my test too, and I only know that because I remember my aunt talking about that specific point in a casino restaurant when I was like 9.
    But in other news, you missed the entire point of my post. So let me phrase it differently, since apparently inferencing is a skill not just lost on our children: Unless you do a ridiculous amount of non-fiction reading in your spare time, or were raised by people who remember ½ of history and life before ½ of modern science, it’s probably going to be a difficult test to pass. Meaning, that it’s probably purposefully been designed to result in failure. Translation: Legalized Racketeering.
     
  38. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I passed those tests. Every teacher I know has passed those tests. They can't be that hard. You're exaggerating.
     
  39. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I have to admit, I get pretty nervous/disturbed when I hear about potential teachers failing those basic skills tests 3-4 times.
     
  40. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yep. I wonder if this happens on engineering or medical forums?
     
  41. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    Oh good....glad to see the debate rages on!!! You know my stance. Hope your day was awesome folks.

    In other news...you know what's fun? Your classroom toilet overflowing and leaking on your classroom floor while teaching. Never a dull moment in the land of sped
     

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