Well that was a lot of thinking…

I spent this morning in Bellingham, taking Washington state content tests in order to get a teaching license.

And in other news, I’ll probably be working at Starbucks for a good long while…

No, well, maybe, but those tests were tough. I took the history test and the general social studies test, so that I can get certifications in each and ostensibly be more marketable as an educator. But I’m really not confident that I passed either test. Each was 110 multiple choice questions; the social studies one actually had repeat questions from the history exam – so I either got a whole bunch right twice, or a whole bunch wrong twice. Some of the questions seemed legitimate, but too many of them were poorly worded, or had such vague answer choices that arguments could be made for almost any of the answers.

But the bigger question is, what do the tests really tell the state of Washington about my potential in a classroom? No one can argue that we don’t want our teachers to have some content knowledge in the subject they’re teaching – I mean, duh, you need to know something about what you’re teaching in order to create appropriate lessons, activities, and assessments for students. But the tests I took today don’t measure any of those skills. Whether or not I can rattle off the main causes of the Russian Revolution has little correlation to whether I can adequately describe those causes in language appropriate to a 15 year old. Or help that 15 year compare the causes of Russian Revolution with the causes of the French Revolution. Or (even more tricky) persuade a 15 year old that the Russian Revolution is a) something he needs to learn or b) something that has any importance, relevance, or usefulness nearly 100 years after the fact.

Perhaps I’m just bitter at the possibility that my college degree in history and four years of teaching history, may count for nothing compared to 220 random social studies questions administered on a random February morning.

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