Educating Future Educators—Preparing Education Students for Licensure Exams with Assessment Data

November 7, 2018 Dan Thompson

I’m a licensed teacher. That’s right—as required by the great state of Ohio, I passed my licensure exams to become a high school social studies teacher.

By two points.

Parents in Ohio might not believe me, but I assure you, I studied for this exam. And studied. And studied some more. Here’s the thing though—I didn’t know what I needed to study. Yes, I had the exam prep books … and I read through them several times, reviewing all the content leading up to the exam.

Reviewing ALL the content. That was my issue, and it took me a decade to realize it.

As with any other professional licensure exam, there are several content areas assessed within educational licensure exams. This means all those great future teachers have several content areas to master leading up to exam day. Apparently, I knew my sociology, psychology, history, and government … but economics and anthropology? Not so much. Unfortunately, this was something I wasn’t aware of until AFTER I took my licensure exam.

Creating Targeted Study Plans from Student Assessment Data

A decade of hindsight and a career in higher education have taught me that I should have been studying economics and anthropology instead of wasting valuable time on topics that I had already mastered. Our current and future education students don’t get a decade’s worth of hindsight when preparing for their licensure exams—they need help now.

The easiest way to understand where students should be concentrating their remediation efforts is by harvesting student performance data from their computer-based exams. This sounds tricky, but it’s actually quite simple: when you create exam questions, “tag” them to specific content areas. At the end of the exam, this information can be quickly aggregated and then shared with all students in a secure, FERPA-compliant manner (and by “quickly,” I mean with a few clicks of your mouse). Instead of having your only assessment feedback be the percent score on the overall exam, students now receive an evaluation of their performance in each specific content area they were assessed on.

Preparing Education Students for Licensure Exams

Creating a targeted study plan is that simple. By tagging exam questions to licensure topics, you’ve just identified the areas that each student needs to improve on and provided the students with a leg up to be successful on the most important exam of their lives and as educators. For eight years I used this tactic in health sciences education, and because our students understood where they needed additional help, we saw a significant increase in licensure exam scores.

Twenty-two-year-old Dan wasted so much valuable time studying simply because he didn’t know what areas he was struggling in. You don’t have to leave your students’ futures up to luck—help them make data-driven decisions about how to spend their time preparing so they can walk into their licensure exams with confidence.

I got lucky and passed … by two points. To all the schools of education out there—this is your chance to make a real, positive impact on student outcomes. At the end of the day, isn’t that why we’re all in the field of education? Be proactive and use assessment data to make a difference now.

Your students (and 22-year-old Dan) will thank you for it.

 

 

About the Author

Dan  Thompson

Dan holds a Master of Science in Technology Enhanced Learning and a Bachelor of Science in Adolescent/Young Adult Education from the University of Dayton. His background as a secondary-level educator drives his research and professional interests, including the appropriate use of summative and formative assessment and how the data they produce can be used to positively impact teaching and learning. An ExamSoft client for over eight years, Dan currently is the Senior Manager of Education and Assessment at ExamSoft. His background includes assisting faculty at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine in course design and development, while also introducing new methods of utilizing educational technology in assessment and instruction to create a learner-centered environment.

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