Today, I felt dumb.
I walked into a computer-based testing center to take a test for educator licensing. More specifically, a professional knowledge test for Pre-K through 3rd grade. One that I did not feel adequately prepared for and really by no fault of my own I might add.
Let’s go back a bit…
In 2005, I graduated from the best teacher education program at a small, liberal arts college in the country (I’m pretty biased here, so…). For four years I learned how to be a teacher. I took the Praxis I in reading, writing and math and the Praxis II in Elementary Education. Aced ’em all. I spent countless hours in the classroom either tutoring, observing, helping- whatever and felt prepared to enter the workforce.
I’ve held a teacher’s license in Vermont, Florida and Colorado. We’ve lived in four different states and 2 out of 4 times, the process was seamless to get my teacher’s license in that state.
I couldn’t work in California because even though I held a teacher’s license and had a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and had worked in the classroom for four years- they still wanted more.
Fast-forward to today.
The state of Ohio says that even though I have 4 Praxis tests under my belt, I still needed to display my professional knowledge using their new and improved teacher assessment system.
$105 later, I learn that there are no preparation materials for said test.
I think … my frustrations are best described via a series of emoji, compliments of Facebook.
As teachers, we aren’t taught to send our children into tests blindly, hoping that they succeed… yet here out was being thrown out into the water, hoping that I wouldn’t drown.
Now, I wasn’t trained in early childhood education. And bless the hearts of all of the teachers who educate anyone under the age of 6, because… I can’t.
Jesus didn’t make me that way.
So taking a test where they ask me about the gross motor development of a 3-year-old and the appropriate actions that I should take if said 3-year-old isn’t performing said gross motor task?
And then they word the answer in a manner that doesn’t make any real sense to me?
I question the place of standardized testing in our country.
And the significance of what these results are going to prove to those looking at the results.
And this is not new. I fought this tooth and nail when I was in the classroom and was giving CBMs (curriculum based measures) to my 6-year-old first graders multiple times a year.
I continue to question the weight that we put on standardized test results as I don’t feel they adequately show what someone knows. It’s not the whole picture.
Outside factors can come into play when looking at standardized test results.
Like maybe that child didn’t eat this morning, maybe that child didn’t study, maybe that child didn’t study well, maybe that child’s (mom, dad, brother, cousin) was arrested last night, maybe that child’s teacher didn’t cover that material, maybe… maybe… maybe.
I didn’t study well.
Because I didn’t know what to study.
So I studied all things Pre-K through 6, behavioral psychologist, classroom strategies, NAEYC, related…
But I feel like I failed.
I’m not bashing standardized tests in any manner. I’m a teacher, remember? I understand assessments and where they fall. I sometimes think that we put too much value on assessments. I also feel like sometimes we over-assess and don’t stop to ask ourselves why we are administering a given assessment (whether standardized or in-class assessment)
Today, I felt kind of like a failure.
There were so many questions that confused me… that I wasn’t sure of the answer to.
I don’t like to fail.
Or feel like things that I should be able to control are out of my control.
Or feel like there are things that I should know that I don’t.
Yeah, today, I felt dumb.