What’s with this test?

“I am devastated, I failed the essay for the sixth time…I have tried everything, and honestly, I think my essay was more than good enough for a passing grade”

“At this point I’m mentally fatigued with these tests and don’t know which direction to go in”

“Failed the Pre K-3 language arts for the 5th time. A 197! Really! I’m done feeding Pearson money ($1,000 later). Time to move on to alternative options”

These are just a few sentiments of people failing the various Florida Teacher Certification Exams (FTCE). I know this might seem like an off subject from what I usually write about but this has been a topic that has been sitting on my heart for a while now. As you may or may not know, I am aspiring to be an ELA teacher. I myself have taken numerous tests. In order to complete my education program during my undergrad years, I had to pass the General Knowledge (GK) test (which I did on the first attempt), the Professional Education (ProEd) test (which I did on the first attempt), and the Subject Area exam (which I have and continue to struggle with). Each test can run a person about $200, with the retake being even more expensive. The FTCE is needed for anyone wanting teach in the classroom here in Florida.

According to the Florida Educator Association (FEA), there’s a teacher shortage of about 4,000 teachers here in the state of Florida. Teachers are dealing with oversized classrooms, low pay, funds being taken away from public schools, lack of support, and not passing the tests. In 2014 (the year I took the GK), roughly 80% of people taking the test on the first attempt actually passed. The Florida Department of Education made changes to the test in 2015 (might I add, much more difficult). Due to those changes, the passage rate dropped to 57% for the math GK and 34% for the Elementary Ed K-6 ELA subtest. That’s a pretty drastic change! When the passing rate for exams are less than 60%, I think that is a problem. Personally, I’m struggling to pass two of the sections on the Elementary Ed exam (Social Science and Math) and I’m pretty much fed up with these exams. Should educators be held accountable for knowledge of the subjects they wish to teach? Yes! But to have educators who have been in the classroom for years who have to quit because they can’t pass a section or two on the tests? I think revisions should be made.

The format of the questions  is what get a lot of people who fail the test even though they don’t lack the knowledge of the subject. Each test needs a passing score of 200. So if someone makes a score of 198 or 197, guess what! They have to retake the entire test and pay even more money. Personally, I’ve spent over $1000 on these exams and I’m happy to say that I have passed the English 6-12 exam and so I can now teach middle school or high school ELA. Even though my undergraduate background is with Elementary Ed, I decided in the middle of my college coursework that I wanted to teach English really. That’s where my heart is and so I see me passing that particular test as a definite sign!

It takes time and money (lots of money) to invest in passing these tests. There’s a group I found on Facebook (ironically on the day I failed the two sections for the second time) and a lot of the people have mentioned paying $2,000 or more on tests and test booklets and online courses and tutoring and on and on. Understandably, some have a very difficult time passing and also understandably, they’re frustrated and over these exams. I personally, don’t understand why if you’re trying to teach, say Math, you need to pass an ELA exam that will hinder you from teaching in that field if you don’t pass it. Supposedly, there are some legislators who are questioning the exam (and the Pearson company I might add) and the way its formatted. Some are considering re-designing the exams. Will these exams change for the better? Only time till tell. But for now, more and more teachers leave the classrooms and more and more spend thousands of dollars on these exams.

Honestly, my heart goes out to those who are struggling to pass these exams. I’ve been there. I’ve cried in my car. I kept my failure to myself. I felt like I was unintelligent because I couldn’t pass an “elementary exam”. Keep in mind, according to the FLDOE (Florida Dept. of Education) in 2017 for the math subtest on the K-6 exam, the passing rate was 61%. 61%!!!! I’m not an idiot, just a victim of this ridiculous exam. My only hope is that in the future legislators will look at these statistics and the number of teachers leaving the classroom due to these exams and actually call for change for the better.

How about you? Have you ever felt victimized from this test?

Til the next time!XOXO,

LolaDasher

 

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