Consider some 2017 pass rates on required tests for teachers: 25% on the ILTS Test of Academic Proficiency, (https://www.isbe.net/Documents/TAP_PassRates400_20170101_20170331.pdf), 43% for MTEL General Curriculum Math subtest, and 40% on the MTEL Foundations of Reading exam (http://www.doe.mass.edu/mtel/results/2017-1119.html). Content and basic skills tests are formidable for students attempting to enter teacher licensure preparation programs and for graduates of those 4-year licensure programs.
With appalling failure rates, you may be wondering who is accountable. The answer is: the one who takes the test. Your licensure test results will have one name at the top—yours. You and you alone are ultimately accountable. You pass, or you fail. A host of stakeholders from the Department of Education to the university to professors to high schools to students may be partially responsible for the results; but only you experience the full benefit or curse of your score.
Set your house in order.
If you are pursuing a career in education, you need to set your house in order. Since you are the one accountable, you might as well accept that, on many state licensure tests, the odds are not in your favor. It’s time to get dead serious about what it takes to pass.
Statistically, chances are that you’ll need to take a required test more than once. Don’t be disheartened. You share a common experience with teacher candidates nationwide. If you open a disappointing score, you’ll need the inner strength to not give up. Though costly, you could attempt the test every month in hopes of getting lucky or learning from your mistakes; however, showing up month after month probably won’t be enough. A better plan is to take charge of own sphere of knowledge, making changes that will prepare you academically. Dispense with self-doubt. Create your own success.
Candidates, desperate for passing scores, have created quite a demand for prep support for licensure tests. Start with the website for your state’s Department of Education. From there, you can find information about tests required for your career. Licensure test sites, such as those generated by Pearson, provide test objectives and practice tests with annotated answer keys. You may be able to find an additional free practice test. Exhaust your free sources including free trial courses; then consider your level of preparedness. Are you ready to take the test? Can you get ready with resources you have available? Do you need additional instruction through a prep course or a content course?
Take time to plan smart for the test: focus on all those little test-taking tips such as simulating the testing situation on your practice test, wearing layers of clothing on test day, and familiarizing yourself with the testing site.
Not to be repetitive, but statistics suggest that passing your course work will be insufficient. Your GPA won’t help you pass your licensure tests. Mastery of the content of your classes will help. That means you need to start now considering every class in your major to be fundamentally necessary for passing the tests. Additionally, in the event that your coursework does not align with the test objectives, you have self-study ahead of you. Your self-study may be as simple as perusing a college textbook, or it may be as costly and time consuming as taking an online or traditional course.
As you set your house in order, remember that thousands of newly-licensed teachers enter the workforce each year. With emotional resilience, purposeful preparation, and rigorous academics, you can be fully credentialed for next school year.
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