I field-tested the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards assessment center exercises that make up Component 1, Content Knowledge, Adolescent and Young Adult Science, Chemistry. While I can’t tell you about the content, other than it was exactly as outlined here (Note: The documentation is not yet complete as the item review is still in process), I can tell you about the testing experience and give you some hints on scheduling and taking the assessments.
The assessment has 2 parts: Constructed Response and Selected Response. The Constructed Response section has 3 “exercises.” You have 30 minutes to complete each one, so allow yourself 2 hours and 15 minutes at the testing center, including arriving 30 minutes early to check in. The Selected Response section has approximately 45 Selected Response Items (SRIs) to be completed in up to 60 minutes. Here’s my experience. DISCLAIMER: This was a field test. There may be changes before the actual roll-out. There may be differences in the test center check-in and process. Read your own cert area directions and test center protocols carefully.
Due to the rollout of the field test schedule, I did the Constructed Response in June and the Selected Response in September. I’m guessing that a candidate would be able to schedule both on the same day. I don’t think that would be a problem. School was in session when I field-tested and I live about 25 minutes from the test center I selected, so I scheduled times for later in the day so I wouldn’t miss school.
As a candidate, and as I understand the process, once you pay for your assessment center component, you will receive an email with an Authorization to Test. (It may also just show up on your profile, but I wouldn’t know since I wasn’t a candidate.) You then go to the PearsonVue website and schedule your assessments. (Disclaimer: I will discuss Pearson’s involvement in a later post.) You’ll get a few emails and reminders about your appointment. The only issue I had was that I scheduled my SRI assessment during a time the assessment center said they were open, but when I arrived, they were closed as they were still on summer hours and had apparently not notified Pearson. There’s an hour of my life I won’t get back…. I can’t blame Pearson, if the testing center didn’t keep up their end of the bargain. I got an email to reschedule, which I did. I also shared that this was my second trip, realizing it wasn’t the employee’s fault that Pearson wasn’t notified of their hours.
There’s a web tutorial online at the PearsonVue website. I’d suggest trying it out, especially if you’re nervous about the computer interface, or if you’re taking a science or math test. The online calculator operates much like a TI graphing calculator except that you’re clicking with a mouse. I’ve heard reports that the calculator wasn’t working on the website version (which I did not use) but worked fine on the tutorial that you can opt to take at the testing center ( I did click quickly through that one and the calculator worked for me.) It’s been reported as an error to Pearson and may be working on the web tutorial by now.
The test center experience both times was pretty much as outlined on the Pearson website. You can’t take anything into the testing room itself except a tissue (which they inspect) and unwrapped cough drops, and I think maybe an insulin pump or other medically necessary gear. The center used lockers that required a 25¢ deposit, which I borrowed at the desk and got back when I opened the locker and returned the key. The video here pretty much outlines the security measures you can expect. I was not hand-printed, but I was wearing a small necklace that they asked me to remove or allow to be inspected.
After being escorted to a computer, I was given my ID (TAKE A PHOTO ID!), a laminated card stock weight “scrap paper” with a graph grid, and a Sharpie. The employee set up my computer, seated me, and left.
I clicked quickly through the tutorial and began both times. There were short breaks between the Constructed Response items, a few minutes as I recall. The next item started automatically, if the allotted time passed. I dont think it would have been long enough to do more than a short stretch break, and certainly not time to use the restroom. You may leave to use the restroom or get a drink if you choose to do so, but it will take time away from your test. I had ample time to write all I wanted on the Constructed Response items and to re-read when I finished.
The Selected Response Item check=in and tutorial were much the same. There’s an option to “flag” responses you want to go back and check. If you try to end the test with items still flagged, you’ll get a reminder about that. I used the process I teach my AP kiddos: Answer each question you know the answer to right away. Place a + by those you can do but will take some time. Place a – by those questions you don’t know. I had only a flag, but found I didn’t need the – option, so flagged those questions requiring a calculation or more analysis, then went back. This strategy worked well.
Because both tests were field tests, I had the opportunity to comment on the process and items at the end. I did. Then, I left. This experience was very different from my initial cert experience in 1998, when we answered 4 1-hour-long questions.
- Schedule early, to get the test center and times you want.
- Don’t take anything with you except your photo ID.
- TAKE YOUR PHOTO ID.
- Do the tutorial. At Jumpstart, we suggest you do the tutorial at a time in your process where you know you should be doing something, but you really don’t know what to do.
- Read the sample questions and scoring rubric for your cert area.
- Write out responses to the sample questions. Check them with the rubric. Rewrite to make them stronger.
- Get a good night’s sleep before the assessment center appointment.
- Use the restroom and get a drink before you check in.
- Know the standards for your cert area.
- For AYA Science and, I understand, Math, know content through first-year college courses.
- When you are finished, CELEBRATE!
Just do it. Good luck!