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Old 07-12-2008, 11:38 PM
 
8 posts, read 61,222 times
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This post is intended for all teachers. I am a soon to be school teacher and teaching is my passion and my calling. I have conquered a tough road already to get to where I am. I'm writing this post basically because I'm a little depressed. I'm depressed because of the PPR test. The Professional Pedagogy and Professional test. A test all teachers must take, a test you cannot study for, a test that has defeated me four times already, and this fourth time was very hard for me. I studied so hard for the test.....taking practice test almost every night, spending money on a six hour tutoring session that seemed to confuse me even more. I wanted to pass the test so bad this time. Even though I can still teach on a probationary certificate it still feels like I'm not good enough, I feel stupid. I mean I passed my content test the first time I took it, I completed my alternative certification program successfully and now I can't pass the stupid PPR test.

I feel as though the test is meant to take your money and the test is not realistic. All I wanna do is teach and I feel as though this test is holding me back. I'm basically writing this post to see if anyone is going through what I'm going through. When I wen't to my tutoring session there were several teachers in the room who had taken the test several times and flunked just like me. I'm talking about science teachers, math teachers, english teachers who passed their content test in flying colors but have not passed the PPR test.

I also wanna know can anyone help me, maybe someone who has passed it who can possibly tutor me or recommend a book I can buy. I need to take PPR ec-12th grade. I really need help, I will do anything. I'm gonna take the test again in October and I just can't look at my results again and see not passed, so this time I will try anything, buy any book, anything that will help me pass. Please someone who knows anything, any teacher, who knows anything about this test, please help me.

GOD BLESS!
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:13 AM
 
Location: El Paso, TX
5,080 posts, read 8,516,336 times
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I went to Tech School.. I can tear a computer apart and put it back together with no trouble, I can fix just about anything PC related. It took me 4 times to pass the test to get the certificate to prove it. Hell I even failed the stupid Microsoft Power point twice.

I choke on test. Maybe you do the same thing. Also if you over study you only hurt yourself.. relax, know what you know and just let it flow. Sounds like you stress and over compensate and that is your downfall.. it was mine too.. so just relax and know your going to pass it the next time.
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Texas
8,062 posts, read 16,673,334 times
Reputation: 3709
tholsey,
It's been more than 7 years since I took the test but I passed it the first time. Why? Because the preparation course I took emphasized the state's teaching theorems on which the tests are based. This is vitally important -- you need to answer the questions in the way the STATE wants you to answer, which oftentimes means throwing common sense and knowledge out the window.

The test has biases and you have to select the answers that best reflect these state biases. For instance, when I took the test, the biases were "learner-centered teaching strategies," parental involvement, and "peer-assisted learning." For the questions about classroom management and discipline, the answers that reflected parental involvement were the right answers. For student learning problems, it was peer tutoring and peer editing, plus giving students a choice in what they read and studied (yeah, right! hahahahahaha).

The tests were based on state-recognized teaching strategies and theorems separated into domains. That's probably still the case. All I can advise you is to study those domains and strategies and, when you take the tests, choose the answers that best reflect the state "best practice" strategies, even when you would never use them or think they're practical. You have to take yourself out of the equation and give the state what it wants.

I'll tell you, there were a number of times when I was giggling while I was taking the exams. There's no way on God's green Earth that I would EVER allow a student to tell me that she wouldn't read the novel the class was studying and allow her, instead, to pick out the novel she wants to read. (That was a question on the test.) But that's the answer I had to choose because it reflected one of the state's theorems on creating a "learner-centered environment. There were all sorts of silly questions like that on the test and I just had to roll my eyes and give 'em what they wanted. (I passed with a score of 90-something percent.)

Now, as I wrote previously, it's been 7 years and it's highly likely the test biases and the state's preferred practices have changed somewhat, so don't use the examples I've given as the current biases. If you have a college or university nearby, visit the College or Department of Education and speak with someone there about it. They're preparing their students to take the exams, so they should have materials about the domains, theorems, and test bias. They may even have some free preparation sessions before the next test date.

Good luck!
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Old 07-13-2008, 12:41 PM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
874 posts, read 2,675,623 times
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Where are you getting the practice tests? Your local library should have TExES books to check out which would have practice tests in them. If you haven't tried those, maybe that would be something you could do.

I wouldn't pay for any more tutoring. If it is stressing you out, then it is not helping you and won't do you any good. I do agree with teatime's suggestion to check with the local college(s), especially the one where you got your alternative certification - they may have some pointers and I believe most do offer preparation sessions which are free.

I took the PPR for the first time early this year (was on a one year out-of-state certificate) and got somewhere in the upper 90s. I did look at the study material on the ETS website and talked to a few teachers who had taken the test recently. What they indicated - and what seemed to hold true on the test - is that usually you will be able to narrow it down to 2 choices right away. Of those, the "correct" answer is the one that would be right in a perfect world where all parents are involved, all students want to be there, everyone lives in peace and harmony, teachers have ridiculous amounts of time available to them every day, etc... If you only had 5 or 10 students all day, which choice would you ideally select? Whatever sounds like it would be the most work for the teacher is the "right" answer.

Also, when you get your test results, I believe it shows how you scored in each domain or each competency. (I took a PPR and a generalist test on the same day, so maybe I'm remembering the wrong test.) If it does, then you might want to look at your weakest areas and see how you can build upon those.

I took the test on computer rather than paper and pencil. The test isn't any easier and they do charge extra to do the computer-based testing, but maybe a change in environment like that would be helpful for you. If you haven't been successful with the paper and pencil test, then maybe you would have a new outlook if you were in a new setting taking it a new way. They did have headphones to put on to block out noise; I know sometimes when I have taken tests in the past and there are people tapping their pencils, sniffling, etc. that it can distract (or annoy) me, so that might be the case for you also.

If your next test isn't until October, you should definitely take a step back for at least a little while and just try to put it out of your mind. Easier to say than do, I know, but the extra stress won't help you with the test nor will it help your general health.

I hope the next time works out for you.
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Old 07-13-2008, 08:24 PM
 
Location: El Paso, TX
52 posts, read 291,262 times
Reputation: 123
I took the PPR two years ago with one practice test, and the advice of the teachers that had recently taken and passed it.

Their advice, and it worked for me, was to answer the questions as they would apply to a perfect world situation. Whichever answer best benefits the student, even if it contradicts any common sense, is the right answer.
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:50 AM
 
32,128 posts, read 50,371,308 times
Reputation: 18065
probably going to take this the wrong way but the professional education classes that come via an education major are designed to cover the info on the test and help someone pass the PPR exam--and yes, it may not be "real world answers that are wanted" but my daughter and son who graduated with majors in education both knew HOW to take the test from what they covered in their classes--because they had tests very similar IN the classes

admittedly there probably are people who major in education in college who fail the test but I would think probably smaller % than in alternative certification programs

check out this June article in Dallas paper regarding the alternative cert programs in TX--

State pushes for stricter rules on alternative certification teacher programs | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News (http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/062208dnmetaltcertbattle.40f41b5.html - broken link)

apparently TEA and the state legislature in an attempt to put more teachers into classrooms set no "standard" course of study for alt cert programs which allows for a wide range of applicants and course info--
I wonder if people would approve the same type of training for professions like doctors or dentists or even a vet for your animals

THOLSEY--what kind of help have you gotten from the program you are being certified through since you have taken the test so many times w/o passing? Did you ask what % of their candidates passed the tests in years past?
I would think it would have a vested interest in seeing you succeed but from what I read in the article there is little oversight/punishment for schools who take people's money and actually don't deliver on promise of certification...

did you pay to do your alt cert program--because I thought there are some where a candidate does not
I saw an on-line certification program where a person PAYS 4500K and there are no guarantees that you will be certified after it is over...part of that fee is to put you into the one-year "intership" where you are actually teaching...and the company is paid out by paycheck derivatives...

and TEATIME--regarding your comment as to how you would not allow a student to tell you she would not read a novel you are teaching--
so you teach English--is that right?
If you have never had a student request a secondary choice of assigned reading material--I think you have not taught very long--or maybe you teach in an environment like a church-school where reading material already has been pre-screened to fit the attitudes of students/parents
I taught in public school in Houston and DFW area and in both locations--and decades apart -like more than 30 years ago--and as recently as 5 or 6--had students request a book other than what the class was assigned--and I was not the only teacher who had that happen...
it is definitely allowed and if you failed to do it--parents would complain to admin and you would probably lose---
check out the following links
abc13.com: News from KTRK, around Houston and southeast Texas 10/03/06

firstamendmentcenter.org: news (http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=15986 - broken link)

Teacher Fired: Assigned Acclaime Novels (http://mysite.verizon.net/vzex11z4/culliton.html - broken link)

PEN American Center - May 22, 2003:Letters protest disciplining teacher for assigning Russell Banks book

sad to say that most districts today buckle under parental pressure whether it is legitimate or not and a teacher puts her/his neck on the line when facing that attitude
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Old 07-14-2008, 12:18 PM
 
Location: Texas
8,062 posts, read 16,673,334 times
Reputation: 3709
loves2read,
I taught for 8 years, mostly in public schools, before I became disabled. And, no, I would never allow a student tell me that he or she wasn't going to work on the "class novel." Sheesh, as soon as ONE got away with that, then every blessed one of them would be demanding to read something easier. I gave my students ample opportunity to read and work on novels of their own choosing from a list I provided them, both individually and in small groups. But the "class novel" was guided instruction and reading, using classic American and British literature, to teach literary analysis and criticism. In my class, that wasn't optional. I knew that precious few students would CHOOSE to read Nathaniel Hawthorne, Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy or Jane Austen because it was daunting but I consider exposure to the great writers to be imperative. The students received immense satisfaction, confidence, and advanced skills from learning to master difficult texts.

And, no, I never had one complaint. In fact, the parents were thrilled by what they saw their students become able to read and achieve. Some parents even decided to pick up the class novels for themselves and read with their students. Heh, one family in particular got hooked on Thomas Hardy and decided to read all of his novels at home! Would that have happened if I let the kids decide my class novel selections? Doubtful. Moreover, a teacher here near Abilene got FIRED because one of his students chose a Cormac McCarthy novel to read that had disturbing themes and subplots. When the parents thumbed through the book, they were outraged and notified the principal and school board.
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Old 07-15-2008, 08:35 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
4,753 posts, read 12,724,540 times
Reputation: 3232
teatime is absolutely right...you have to learn the bias of the testers and give 'em what they are seeking. Otherwise, they will keep failing you.

We have testing like that in my profession, too. I did test prep that taught me what they want you to say to get licensed and I scored 90 something percent correct even though there were times I was holding my nose while choosing the answer I knew they wanted me to say was right. Many of my colleagues kept failing the test because they picked the answers they really believed were true.

It is like a hazing ritual to see if you are part of the club or not, not an exam that measures true competence to teach.
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:39 AM
 
32,128 posts, read 50,371,308 times
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TEATIME--your experience is your experience
all I can say if you had that attitude and had a student or parent who requested another book--you better have listened
I know what you mean about students who don't want to read "classics"--most of them don't want to read at all--but the times I did have a student request another choice--no other students picked up and ran with that option--
I taught for more than 7 years after returning to teaching from othe employment before I retired a few years ago--in a city-district in DFW area--and I had several students who requested alternate selections during that time--I too was choosing from a designated, school-approved reading list of "classics" but some people object to the language in Twain's Huck Finn and what they consider "amoral" behavior in Brave New World or the magical aspects of Bless Me, Ultima

the students who requested another choice DID NOT get to choose their own replacement--this is not about doing what THEY want--but about finding material that is valuabe and not objectionable--

just out of curiosity since you have been on disability--how long ago did you stop teaching?
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:09 PM
 
Location: Texas
8,062 posts, read 16,673,334 times
Reputation: 3709
Yep, that is my experience. I was successful and, most importantly, my students were successful. When I would run into them and their parents after they graduated, they would thank me for the instruction I gave them because when they got to college, they breezed through their English courses. Many of the novels they had already studied with me were what they encountered in college and it gave them a big edge.

Sorry, but I didn't have an "attitude." I was hired and paid to teach based on my degrees in English literature and my practical experience in teaching and journalism. I was also asked by the College Board to be one of their educators and presenters because they liked what was going on in my classroom and what my students were achieving. You keep asserting that if I didn't capitulate to what the parents personally wanted, I would have been fired. I highly doubt that. The parents and administrators respected my qualifications and expertise. I certainly showed results.

Therein lies the problem in Texas. Teachers often aren't treated as professionals and experts in the subject area they are teaching, for all intents and purposes. They are expected to be facilitators who reflect and implement whatever people in Austin decide. And Austin changes its collective mind a LOT. The students and parents expressed deep and rightful dissatisfaction with the frequent testing and curriculum changes coming down from Austin and, especially, the demand for immediate changes that had a direct impact on classroom instruction. It becomes quite clear that teachers can be viewed as pawns who simply ask "how high?" when Austin yells, "Jump!" at the expense of the standards and canons of our very disciplines.

I was educated previously in the Northeast but I did my Graduate work here. I was astonished (and the professors were dismayed) by the lack of proper background the Graduate students in English had. We had a meeting and mixer with the Graduate faculty every year and the students were complaining that the courses and faculty presupposed in-depth prior study of classic literature. They said the department should offer introductory courses in mythology, Shakespeare, Dante, Milton and other canons so that the students would do better in the Graduate courses. Excuse me? This should have begun in high school and completed in the undergraduate degree. It is NOT the Graduate School's responsibility to provide preliminary exposure to the canons of literature. This is the fallout from Austin-style instruction.

My own son was in an AP Brit. Lit. course that did not introduce the students to Beowulf, the Canterbury Tales, ANY of the fabulous Romantic-period poets, NOTHING that the rest of the world hails as exceptional literature! They read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 1984, and an assortment of funky short stories and essays that may or may not have been British. Some schools are even doing away with Brit. Lit. as the Senior English requirement. I find it to be incredibly sad that future generations will not have much exposure to the beauty of Shakespearean language, his incredible prose and turn of phrase. In a world that is increasingly mundane, with beauty and magic in all forms stripped down to the lowest common denominator, I find this to be tragic.

Obviously, your views differ greatly from mine. All I ask is that my professionalism be respected. I love my subject matter, I love literature, passionately and how I relished giving this gift to my students. Ninety percent of my students came from economically disadvantaged homes and at the end of the school day, they returned to often-sordid realities. Yes, I schooled them in writing, grammar, and literary analysis but, more importantly, I gave them an hour every day of beauty, adventure, chivalry, and poetry that they relished. I tried to feed their flagging spirits and give them vehicles of escape for when their daily lives were fraught with conflict and unhappiness. Once per semester, I arranged transportation and special pricing so that the school district would pay for them to come with me to a play so they could see the words they've read come to life on stage.

I had to retire two years ago and I miss it intensely. But I can still see the glow in my students' eyes, and hear the sighs of one of my students (who tried to commit suicide just months before) say, "Ma'am, I've never seen anything so beautiful; I don't want to leave!" when we were at the theater. This is why I did what I did. I still remember how MY Senior English teacher inculcated our studies with beauty and magic; I agreed to teach so that I could do the same. God knows, I wasn't in it for the money -- I took a pay cut to teach. The rewards are there, though, and the memories now are precious.
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