What qualifies ME as an educator? A rambling.


I just got back from taking the OGET (Oklahoma General Education Test). One of the two tests the Department of Education in my new states says I need to pass to fully transfer my 99 year certificate from MO to OK.
I’ll be honest, I find the whole scenario a bit amusing. Really? You gave me credit for half a dozen secondary content-specific certification areas, recognized both my undergraduate degree areas for secondary education and history, & a master’s degree with a focus on curriculum development…but I have to take a test that is the equivalent of the 6th grade MAP (Missouri Assessment Plan)??? Why?
I get it, it’s a way for the state to get $250 more in fees for transferring my certificate (and really, most people with a high school diploma should pass the test just fine).

…but what if I didn’t?

After all, it has been almost a dozen years since I’ve had a reason to use the formula for figuring out the area of a cylinder (sorry to my Math teacher friends, I don’t have that formula down by heart. Pythagorean? All good there, but cylinders? Nope.). I realized about halfway through the test that The VAST majority of what it was “testing” was my ability to retain/retrieve info that I had learned almost 20 years ago as a middle school student or perhaps my early years of high school.

Here I am, a Master Teacher with a decade of teaching under my belt, stellar evaluations from some of the toughest evaluators in the districts I’ve worked for, involved in professional learning groups that span nation-wide…and it all hinges on recalling info from 20 years ago?!?

Only in Education, right?

What happens if I was a bit rustier that I thought? Certainly, I’ll spend another couple hundred bucks and retake the darn thing. Yet, I still wonder why it would matter. How does THIS test show my measure as an educator? How does it measure the way I keep 100+ adolescents engaged and interacting with a document 1100 years older than they are? How does it show my ability to decode curriculums written by National panels & put it into language that allows my students to tract their own mastery of content & skills? How does this test show my skill at building a climate of trust with some of my school’s most defiant and untrustworthy kids so that they succeed?
Shouldn’t evidence of these things matter to the state? Shouldn’t my fitness be measured on how capable I am for the job I’ll be doing?
No offence to my best friend who teaches math (you know I love you Lori), but if my job is to teach teenagers about the effects of the Hellenistic Era or how the ideas of the Enlightenment both continued and shifted throughout the Age of Revolution…is my inability to cold recall the formula for the area of a cylinder a necessary piece of information? Or can we accept the fact that maybe in the era of Google that there are better measures out there?

I certainly don’t expect my best friend to be able to cold recall which portions of the Magna Carta can be found in both the English Bill of Rights & the American Constitution. In fact most of our professional conversations revolve around how to measure mastery, theories on brain research, & many more things that are much more complex that rote memorization.

Then the better part of my nature rears its head and reminds me that to complain without offering a solution is useless. So I’ll end with a suggestion:

A “lifetime” (or equivalent) certificate from another state should be enough to skip the testing for transfers (honestly I think the tests are bad for everyone, but Baby Steps, right?). Keep the two year probationary period & use the observation evaluations already in place. These documents are already in the state system & accessible. Certainly they should offer a more accurate view on the qualifications of the candidate.

Readers, what are your thoughts or experiences?