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The Praxis II is Pushing Good Teachers Out of the Profession

Publication Date: 2004-10-10

I went to the ETS site to see a description of the Spanish Content Knowledge test.

The questions in Section II, Part A (Speech Analysis) are based on speech samples recorded by students of Spanish who are not native speakers; you will be asked to identify errors and error patterns in the students? speech.

I don't know anything about teaching a foreign language but I would think a person would have to be a very experienced teacher to be able to identify error patterns in a student's speech.

Be familiar with the following: the structure of the Spanish language; terminology used to describe grammar, syntax, and phonology; a variety of print and nonprint sources, such as periodicals, literature, Internet resources, and
advertisements; the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries and regions.

Let's see: The test-taker needs to be familiar with a variety of print and non-print resources and advertisements as well as the cultures in:

Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Congo, Republic of the
United States

It's not hard to see how someone could slip up on this test. It is hard to see just where teacher savvy in the classroom is evaluated. Where does what the teacher has proved she can do with students enter the equation?

Where is the NEA on this?

I am a high school teacher who earned a 3.9 GPA in my Spanish major, and a 3.8 GPA in my general studies. I was awarded the "Exceptional Student Teaching Award" from my private college, as well as the "Outstanding Senior in Spanish" award. I was on the Dean's List every semester, and obtained scholarships due to my academic achievements. I involved myself in so many activities on campus, such as tutoring kindergarten children, working as a writing workshop tutor, and reinforcing lessons as a Spanish Drill Instructor. I have been teaching now for three years with a "Provisional License." If June 2005 comes without my passing the standard Praxis II test, I will lose my career.

It is so important that others know that teachers are losing as well as children due to standardized testing. These tests of no measure are not just harming our children. They are costing GREAT teachers their careers.

I teach well, with all my heart, sweat, and tears. My enrollment in the past three years has tripled. I have children in Spanish levels one through five. So, I have five separate preparations each and every day. I have combined classes, some with three levels of Spanish in one classroom period. I teach approximately 120 students everyday. I am the Coach of Football Cheerleading and the Competition squad, and one of the founding Sponsors of our Foreign Language Club. Everyday I am consistently teaching, constantly trying. All of my reviews from the administration have been nothing but glowing records of my outstanding teaching skills and ability to truly reach the children.

Even so, I have failed that Praxis II Spanish Content Knowledge twice. I am presently waiting to receive my latest scores from this past month's attempt. I am absolutely no different from the students. Because I am a new teacher, and due to Educational laws passed, I must pass this test to teach, regardless of the fact that I am enabling our children to succeed in learning the Spanish language and culture.

I love my career. And I am not alone in this great problem. There are SO many others like me who are bound to leave the teaching field due to the Praxis II exam, and Virginia's extremely high standards of passing scores. So many will be pushed out of Education, just like those students who fail the standardized tests. What good are standardized tests if our children are dropping out due to failing scores? At the same time, the Educational system is pushing out gifted teachers who want nothing more than to help the situation but are told their talents are no longer welcome. Pushing out new teachers who want to make a difference is an enormous mistake, and it all falls on numbers from a standardized test.

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