Sunday, November 02, 2008

C.A.T.

No, I'm not talking about our pet cat. I'm talking about the C.A.T. The Connecticut Administrator Test.

See, I'm taking courses to get my 092 certification. That's a fancy way of saying that I'm paying a whole lot of money to get a degree so that I can one day be an administrator; a principal, a curriculum leader etc. In addition to the certification, I'm getting my 6th year degree, which is another thirty credits beyond a master's degree and gives me a sweet little bump up the pay scale.

Part of this degree is, of course, taking a test. Because heaven forbid they just give you the degree after sitting through hours of classes and writing countless papers and working on several projects, and, oh yeah, writing a thesis. I mean, you can't do all that work and not take a test too, right??? The test is divided into two modules, with two sections in each module- so, four tests all together. There is the School Improvement module and the Instructional Analysis and Teacher Support module. Each module is then divided into Elementary and Secondary (which is either middle or high school). Each module is also about an hour and a half, so the entire test taking time for all four modules is 6 hours. Yup. They don't recommend that you take all four modules at once, and I have to tell you, I agree. The test is scored on a 0-3 rubric, with a 2 being the lowest score you can get. Actually, I take that back, on all four sections, you are allowed one score of 1. So, for example you could get a 1 and a 2 on one module, and then a 2 and 2 on another and still pass the whole thing. If you get more than one 1 then you fail and have to retake it. Did I mention that the test is pricey too? It cost $250 to do one module. So, the entire thing costs $500.


I took two modules Saturday and sitting through three straight hours of testing was hard. Did I mention that they are essay questions and you have to hand write everything? In this day and age it seems almost barbaric to make you hand write an essay.


Anyways, you can't really study for these tests. You take classes to help, and you do a few practice runs in those classes, but it's not the kind of test you study for. I went in feeling reasonably confident. Who am I kidding, I went in with a stomach ache feeling ridiculously nervous. But I had reviewed the study guides I had, and the suggestions I received on my practice runs and I told myself, repeatedly, that on all of my practices I got scores of 2 and 3 so I could DO this. Like a mantra, over and over, "I can do this, I can do this, I can do this....."


And, man, it was HARD. Harder than I thought. Without going into too many details (I signed a confidentiality agreement and you would be bored anyways) I'll tell you that our practices were not really like the real thing. Sure, the questions were all the same, but the scenarios were way different. I was confronted with situations that I couldn't support with hard data, and every course I took kept telling me to refer to the Strategic School Profile--the SSP, which is the document that has all the hard data in it. Every professor I had said that you should use the supporting documents to get an idea of a problem to address but you use the SSP to support anything you do. Yeah, well, what are you supposed to do if the SSP has absolutely NOTHING in it? I mean, nothing. I floundered and I knew it. I tried to remember all of the great ideas I had learned and written about, but so much of it flew right out of my head that I know I didn't include everything I should have. And the time constraint! I kept my watch out, well aware of the time, but somehow managed to only wind up with about twelve minutes for the last question. Overall, I walked out convinced that I didn't do well, and I'd be going through it again the next time it is offered. Scores come out in six weeks, so I have a long wait to find out how I really did....

Fingers crossed......

2 comments:

JaxMom said...

Man, that is tough. Handwritten????? That is pretty ridiculous, I would say. I would think those scoring the thing would not want it handwritten. Surely there was some computer lab somewhere they could have used.

Maybe every felt the way you did, and you did better than you thought.

The topics sound so subjective too. Who gets to judge??? Good luck.

Mom S said...

People really don't know how much WORK, TIME and EFFORT goes into being a REALLY GREAT teacher! or Administrator! Well done... because you are- ONE GREAT TEACHER!