Monday, June 2, 2008

I Failed Praxis II

While this is not something I want to spread around, especially not to future perspective employers, I want to annouce it. I am only slightly ashamed. Mostly I'm astounded--seriously astounded. NC requires a combined score of 322 in Art: Content Knowledge and Art Making. I scored 311. I was just drop-jawed when I received my scores. Then, I looked up the MD qualifying scores. MD also requires Art: Content Knowledge with a minimum score of 159. My score is 168. Phew! Going into this exam and during it I thought I might have to take the Content Knowledge again because I am rusty on architecture and there were a lot of those questions. Not surprisingly that was my lowest scored area of the test. As for the Art Making exam, MD does not require that exam, but instead the other essay exam available for art teachers. Since I'm graduating from a NC school, though, my exams and scores need to be for NC. The Art Making is an hour long essay test. There are two five minute exercises which can be written or drawn answers and then two 25 minute essays about, get this, MY OWN WORK! I prepared for this test. I read the sample questions. I prepared responses for the sample questions. I thought about why I wanted to choose the pieces I chose. When I saw the two five minute questions I thought, piece of cake. Knocked those out and moved on to the essays about my work. The questions posed, unlike the sample questions, were VERY simplistic. The test has two pages for each of the three questions per artwork. I only requred 5-10 lines per answer and I finished right at the last second. I was not concerned about this test when I finished. I felt I had answered the questions to the point and very specifically. So, why, then did I effectively score a 50% on each of the two score categories?
Art Making:
I. Working knowledge of basic art concepts and techniques of art making: 6 out of 12
II. Documentation of personal art making: 22 out of 40
Not sure how scoring works, but that gave me a 143.

Looking at the sample answer given in study material, the scorers like a lot of bull shit and do not care about flow or sentence structure or even answering the specific question posed. Did I flower my answers with artists who influenced me? No, because that was not asked. Did I throw in a period of art history that my work could fit into? No, because that was not asked. Guessing I should have though.

Now I have a few options:

1. Pay $55 to have the score verified. This means someone makes sure the score reflects the scoring rules. That would probably just leave me back where I am now: failing.

2. Take Art Making again and hope I get at least a 154, eleven points more, to get the minimum 322 required.

3. Take BOTH the Art Making AND the Art: Content Knowledge (2 hour multiple choice test which I finished, along with many others, in 1 hour) exams in hopes of raising BOTH scores to get over the 322 minimum score.

I'm leaning towards option 3. The bad news is it will cost $200 to do that. Education is NOT cheap. The good news is I got a waiver the first time I took the Praxis and only paid $80. So, really I took the Content Knowledge for free the first time and now I'm paying for it like most people have to do anyway. In taking it again, I'll prepare even more and really review architecture and famous artists.

On my Praxis score booklet my Praxis I scores are listed. I took that test in April 2002. I passed each of the three sections (Reading, Writing, Math) for both NC and MD minimum score requirements. I was surprised at the time that my Writing score was lowest of the three. I'm not a superb writer, but I am organized and generally have excellent grammer. Is excellent too strong a word? I'm not sure where my test was scored or by whom. The scores came from Princeton, NJ. Scorers just don't think highly of my writing.

W is also planning on teaching, though he'll be taking an alternative route since his degrees are in History and Sociology and not education. He still has to take the Praxis I and II. The Content Knowledge test should be a piece of cake for him. However, the essay test, titled Pedagogy, is odd to him. Since he's never taken an education class he doesn't understand how teaching is viewed as a science. Well, it is. The essay test gives specific history topics, such as The Cold War, and asks the test taker to give the main topic he will teach and reasons why. Then it asks for subtopics and reasons why. I still think he should be able to do well on the test, because he knows history very well and can write well. Really, not having studied lesson planning might help him to just focus on the questions at hand rather than think about structure of lesson plans.

When I was a kid, I knew my husband and I would be teachers. Don't remember when I thought that, but I did. I will definitely branch out and do other "careers" in my life and I think W will as well. I'm pretty excited to teach and I'm starting to look forward to student teaching. It will keep me busy and get me prepared for jumping into a classroom mid-year (I'm praying) since I graduate in December. I have a few Ts to cross this summer, one being passing the Praxis. I also have to do a completely rediculous online education portfolio, though I suppose I will show it to school systems to which I apply. The last thing I have to do is make sure a couple classes are allowed to be substituted from other schools. For some reason teachers don't call me. I have to find them.


e. figueroa said...

I have to take the Art Making test on Saturday. I NEED to pass. I have to be a sub in my own class until I pass. Any suggestions?

Lauren said...

Actually, I'm taking the test again tomorrow (Sat.) and just finished getting all my materials together. My suggestion is to include time periods of art history and artist's names in your essays. That is what I see in all the examples of highly scored essays and I did not do that in my first test (because the questions did not lend themselves to such details but I'm forcing them in this time.) Choppiness in writing doesn't seem to matter as long as it's detailed and full of B.S.! Good luck!

Lauren said...

P.S. In what state are you teaching?

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name is Monica and I feel awful after reading your story. I was thinking that I did well on my past Praxis II test considering that I hadn't studied art in quite some time, but seeing that the possible score could have been as high as 322 makes me feel stupid. Our passing score here in Alabama is 150 and I made a 141. I just retook the test today and feel as though I may have failed again. I dissected the study guide by not only writing the questions on index cards but also learning about each and every response to the multiple choice questions. I went into this test thinking that it would be much like the other test. WRONG! The test went from 70 questions to 120 questions. Unbelievable! The study guide states that the test would be 70 questions. There were more questions on Traditions in Art, Architecture, etc.. and fewer questions on the Art Making which is the part that I am good at and scored higher on during the last test. The Art Criticism and Aesthetics had fewer questions as well. There were a few questions that I most definitely knew the answer to due to my intense studying, but there were some that through me off guard because they were not asked in the study guide nor were they a part of the responses. Looks like the best way to study for this test is to get an Art History book and study the entire book. I surely hope that I do not have to retake this test. One thing its costly and it makes me feel stupid, but also pushes back my chance of student teaching. Having Art teachers take this test is ridiculous to me because many of us do not even use textbooks in the classroom. Also, may school officials do not even feel that "The Arts" are even that important and are always quick to get rid of them when finances are low. I am not a good test taker and I have a hard time remembering information. I feel that with or without this test I can still be an effective teacher. Many of the information can be read before a class or before the school year is in session and can be taught that way. The craziness that they put us through is unnecessary. I am terrified that I may never past the test just because it feels as though it will be very different each time I take it and somehow or another the test will have artist never heard of. Like you I am very creative. I am a great artist and I can make other students great artist as well.

brianeve said...

I took the Art Making Test in KY and failed. I got 148...8 pts less than passing, but I know I screwed up the first part. I took it again and nailed the first part, so I expected to pass. I was in shock when my score was 128! The essays I got 24/40 on last time, I got 10/40 on this time. That would mean I got on avg a 1 on all my responses. I'm having it reviewed. They told me they cannot tell me if one of my essays wasn't scored. Bullshit. Let me add that I took tests in PA and KY and all of my scores were consistantly well above passing.

Anonymous said...

I'm from Connecticut and am currently pursuing an MS in secondary education...My focus is English and the Praxis II is rediculously hard....I have failed twice already....I don't understand how our education system can preach differentiation and various learning styles and then require standardized tests?!?!