Letter to the Editor: Standardized testing hinders potential teachers

Oct. 20, 2015

Every high school student dreads the day they have to take the ACT or SAT. After taking the test, they walk out of the room with a weight off their shoulders. Unfortunately, when students attend college, many degree programs require them to pass specific standardized tests. When I was a freshman, I knew exactly what my major was going to be. Since elementary school, my dream in life was to be a kindergarten teacher. I was blind-sided when I met with my advisor and she told me I need to pass three parts of a standardized test called the PRAXIS by a certain number or higher, along with numerous other qualifications.

Since the PRAXIS is pretty similar to the ACT, I felt I did not have a chance because I am not a great test taker. After taking the test three times, which is about $450, I could only pass one section and missed the other two sections by only a couple of points. I figured if I was meant to be a teacher it would not have been this hard, so I threw in the towel and switched my major. Maybe I could have tried one more time, but I still had to pass the PRAXIS II and PRAXIS III, which are even harder and cost $120 each. I personally know a handful of people who have had to change their dreams because of the PRAXIS standardized test.

I do not believe a standardized test will show if an individual would be a good teacher. I consider myself to work very well with children. I have had various jobs in childcare in the last five years including being in charge of a whole summer childcare program. It’s crazy to think I am qualified to run a summer program with over hundred children and be in charge of six staff leaders, but I do not “qualify” to be a teacher because I struggled taking a standardized test.

Acceptance into college programs should not be about how good your test-taking skills are. Someone can ace the PRAXIS exam but this does not necessarily mean they will be a successful teacher. The education programs are missing out on amazing future-teachers because an individuals’ teaching abilities do not accurately reflect through standardized tests.

Qualifications to get into the education program should not be about passing standardized tests but instead should be about putting these applicants into real life teaching situations. An example could be observing the individual in a school while they help a teacher teach a lesson to a class. The individual should be scored based on their ability to teach and interact with children. Applicants for the education program need to be weeded out from the good test-takers to the amazing future teachers.

Let’s stop letting great teachers escape our education programs. Passing a standardized test does not make an individual a successful teacher.

Erin Livingston

Social Work BA

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