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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 13 2011

Thoughts on the Praxis

I really believe that the Praxis system of tests is a load of crap. They aren’t the most effective tests, they are expensive, and they’ve become simply red tape.
I feel like I am pretty well versed at test taking, but I felt really uncomfortable taking a test without any prior knowledge or studying. However, pretty much every educator I’ve talked to has told me not to worry. At All. Turns out, they were right. The Praxis I was incredibly simplistic; I think a good test taking high schooler could do pretty well, but anyone who passes a few intro college classes should definitely pass. I just took the Content Knowledge Praxis II and (*knock on metaphorical wood*) I thought it was also easy; only the English section asked questions relating to actual teaching topics, such as language acquisition. To me, the Content Knowledge exam seemed redundant in a lot of ways to the Praxis I. I just don’t see how these exams accurately predict teaching skill.
These three tests also cost about $150 each. A lot of people also spend an additional $30 on test prep because you must pass these tests to become a teacher. Because not as many students have to take the Praxis exams, they aren’t given at as many places or as frequently as tests like the ACT or SAT. So, I’ve driven at least 2 hours for each of my Praxis exams, partially because of TFA’s quick turn around compared to traditional teaching programs.
Of the people I chatted with during this round of Praxis exams, a large minority were already experienced teachers who had simply moved to a new state. After years of experience, not all of their certifications transferred, though some certifications would transfer. Other teachers simply wanted to gain certification in a new subject.
I’m not sure what would be a better system, honestly. I do think there should be a some kind of testing and a system of certification, just as we regulate the medical field. However, the current testing system is incredibly bloated. It doesn’t make sense to test basically the same things in both the Praxis I and Elementary Content Knowledge. It doesn’t make sense to require experienced teachers to shell out additional money and time for additional certification.
Of course, this all goes back to whether I am sufficiently prepared to teach even though I do not have a degree in education. Well….I think I will be by August, possibly more than the average traditionally educated teacher. But….I guess we will find out.
* A version of this post is over at my other blog, www.inklingspot.com.

3 Responses

  1. Ms. P

    You had to drive 2 hours! That must have been killer in the early AM. I was also so surprised by how many experienced teachers there were taking exams just to switch certification, I understand the states just want to be sure but I really wish the system was more nationalized. The Elementary CK exam makes no sense to me. If you have a college degree do you really need to test that? I took Math CK and Middle School CK. Math CK I think is a good exam, it was sufficiently difficult to weed out people who don’t know enough math and probably shouldn’t be teaching it. Middle School CK, I really have no idea why I needed to take that.

  2. heikemarie

    Yeah, I took a two-hour train ride for my first Praxis (II, Spanish: World Language). I am lucky in that my boyfriend lives in the cradle of the ETS company, so my other test was right here (15 minute drive). Just completely ridiculous and arbitrary.

    As far as Praxis I and EE:CK, I took the latter but not the former–at least in NJ, the Praxis I isn’t required. Maybe it would just make sense to have one or the other…or collapse the exams. I agree that it was (knocking on wood), redonkulously easy, but there were people there taking it for *THE THIRD TIME*. I was flabbergasted.

    • jlange

      Nice use of the word “redonkulously!” ^_^

      No, seriously, taking that test *three* times? I mean, *knock on wood,* I’m pretty sure I passed.

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Cows and children have a lot in common…

Region
Mississippi Delta
Grade
Elementary School
Subject
Elementary Education

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