Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Conducting the People's Business

Today I spent nine hours in windowless rooms at a Portland hotel with the folks designing the newest teacher licensure tests for Oregon.  Beginning in September, folks who want to teach in Oregon public schools will begin taking a new set of tests.  All of the information about the tests can be found on the Oregon TSPC site.  My (and my colleagues) charge today was to recommend a passing score on the new test to the good folks at TSPC.  They will either accept our recommendation or they will change it.  While the work could hardly be construed as fun, it was personally rewarding on many levels.

I always enjoy meeting teaching colleagues from around the state.  To find out what is really happening in Oregon schools, just ask the teachers.  They will talk about class size, effects of testing on computer lab use, administrators, budgets, just about anything!  Right now, most are just happy to have jobs.  A woman in Colton just received permanent status, is low person on the 6 teacher totem pole, and is realistic about staying in the school.  Another teacher commutes over 35 minutes a day to his school.  To some this may seem like a short drive, in the Portland area, it is a schlep.

Setting passing standards is important work.  Parents like to know their children's teachers have the necessary content knowledge to teach effectively.   Our passing score recommendation does not guarantee employment or even interviews.  It serves as the benchmark for teacher licensure.  Reach the bar, you get a license, don't reach the bar, take the test again.  The test design and our conference are all data driven.  We received nearly instantaneous results of our scoring work.

So why can't I talk about the tests, the people, the company, or the recommended score?  I signed a Confidentiality Agreement.  Ask me about it in ten years!  A tiring, but rewarding day, for sure.

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