Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Letter to the Legislature

To Whom It May Concern:

I understand the basic skills portion of the MTLE test is being considered for revisions. I am a student who has always been a horrible test taker. I find my MTLE test results being impacted by a lack of time, test anxiety, and a learning disability. I am having the hardest time passing the reading and math portion of the MTLE, but I have met all other expectations for the education program at my college. My letters of recommendation are excellent, methods class assessments have been good, my grades are A’s, and yet, I cannot move on to student teaching until I pass the reading and math portion of the basic skills test.

Math and reading comprehension have never been my strong points. I love reading, but I have struggled with reading comprehension since Kindergarten. My parents did everything from phonics programs to years of tutoring to boost my reading comprehension skills. Throughout fifteen years of tutoring I learned ways to retain what I read. Highlighting, reading out loud, and reading with an index card are three ways I learned that best help me comprehend what I am reading. I am not able to use these tools while taking that MTLE and that puts me at a disadvantage. For example, when I have to read an article silently, I know I will need to reread it at least three times before I am able to fully comprehend what I am reading. When tests are timed I know I do not have time to read each article three times and then try to answer questions. If I was able to take notes or read out loud I know I would be able to read the article one time and then answer questions about what I just read.

On top of struggling with reading comprehension, I struggle with math. I had tutoring year round in math throughout middle and high school. I did not enjoy this subject until I had a fantastic math teacher in my first year of college. He was very patient and knew how to explain the material in a way I would understand it. I would spend 2 hours a day in addition to class with this Algebra teacher, and it paid off. For example, my final for that class took me four and a half hours, but I only got three wrong and passed the class with an A. He has been a tremendous influence as to why I want to become a teacher. He showed me that you can influence a student’s life, make a difference, and be the one to help a student find love for a subject they thought they would never enjoy.

I am not a good test taker and I do not think the MTLE basic skill tests should be the one thing holding me back from being a future educator. Basic skill tests are a test that evaluates what students are currently doing in school. The difference is, in school, students are evaluated on math and reading by homework, projects, and participation not just tests. This allows each student the chance to succeed no matter what his or her learning style is. The reading and math basic skills tests are holding me back from achieving my career goals. Not everyone is able to perform his or her best through a test. Therefore, a new process involving all learning styles is needed to determine how to best assess or ensure the “basic” skills required by all teachers.


Liz S------------

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