The results are in…
Last post, I described the process for gaining subject area endorsements and certification in Colorado. I was about to take the Elementary Education Colorado Place Elementary Education test. The test was just over 2 weeks ago and the results arrived by email yesterday. It all turned out to be an even bigger farce than I imagined or remembered from previous tests.
The test included 100 questions and we had about 4 hours to complete it. All of these numbers may be a little off, but I think that you’ll find that they are fairly accurate. I made a goal to finish within 1 hour and ended up going 5 minutes over. I did rush a little to meet the goal, but even if I had been going for a score instead of time, I wouldn’t have taken much longer.
The test provides an example of how ridiculous it is to put faith in a for-profit education company working in conjunction with a state educational bureaucracy. In true standardized test fashion, there were a few questions using language that would have been archaic in the 70s, when I was in elementary school, and belongs in a museum now. Who really cares if you can read and understand a passage about ma and pa on the farm that was written about 200 years ago? One question aimed to see if potential elementary teachers knew about research and asked the best place to find information quickly. The only internet based option was chat room. Do they even still have chat rooms? The correct answer, I think, was an encyclopedia. When is the last time that you looked something up in an encyclopedia?
It did not relieve me to know that Colorado elementary teachers are only tested on doing math that I required of my 6th graders a couple of years earlier. I did every single problem in my head without scratch paper and didn’t allow myself to reread anything. Questions about place value and percent, but nothing that an average student would find difficult in 8th grade. Only one algebra problem that went something like 4x + 2x =12, solve for x. It became pretty obvious where all of the bad math skills that I see by middle school come from. Teachers should be offended by the test.
The test writers managed to create a test that is both totally irrelevant and shockingly easy.
To cut to the chase, here is what happened. The score is scaled from 100 to 300. Whomever wrote this test certainly didn’t weight the questions, so I’m assuming that you take your score and multiply it by 3. Why do this? Because a cut score of 220 sounds more impressive than 73.3% is my best guess. It could be that they add 200 to your number correct, but that would mean that a score of 20% passed, and that is just too depressing to consider as a real possibility. I scored 297, which probably means that I answered 99/100 correctly. The job requires a bachelor degree, so I’ll use that as my comparison pool. I’ve never met anyone with at least a bachelors degree who wouldn’t have passed this test.
This all makes me sound like a condescending ass, I know. But anyone who can’t pass this test within a few tries has no business teaching elementary-aged children. It makes teachers look bad when the bar is set so low. So why even bother? Here are my top explanations:
- It makes a lot of money with a product that I’d be embarrassed to admit cost more than a few thousand $ to create
- It doesn’t dampen the flow of teachers into a profession that is necessary to society, yet couldn’t get much shittier than it is at the moment
- We have tremendous faith in standardization and the predictive power of standardized tests, pretty much all human experience to the contrary.
What’s next? I’ve signed up to take the English and Science tests in the beginning of January. If I make it through that, I’ll just keep pushing my luck until it runs out.