A Watson Guide

Finally, the first “A Watson Guide” is ready to go out into the world. It’s been a long time in coming, but here it is. I hope it will ease the way to success on the NYS teacher certification exams for those who are hoping to be certified as teachers in NYS. Teaching is a great profession that has taken a bashing lately – I’m thankful for those of you who value teaching and hope to make it your career. Here’s my effort to help you along.

I welcome your feedback!

A Watson Guide _ EAS and CST Introduction

for the website media

Study Materials for the EAS

An effective way to study material is to somehow make it your own.

And you can make it your own by making your own – flashcards, outlines, study guides.

Here’s a start:

  • Is there lots of content to study?

Make flashcards (Flashcards are a topic all their own, I’ll just say here that you should make them, and if you can, you should make them by hand – writing out the information on index cards. A word or short phrase goes on one side of the card, the definition and, if possible, the word used in context. Part of the benefit of flashcards is the close attention you pay as you make the card.)

Where to get words to study for the EAS exam? Take a look at the Test Frameworks – here : http://www.nystce.nesinc.com/content/docs/NY201_OBJ_FINAL.pdf

Pile up your index cards, settle in and start reading. Do you see words you don’t know? Write it on a card, on the other side copy out the sentence or phrase it appears in. Later you’ll look this word up.

  • Do you see any patterns in the exam itself?

The EAS (the unrevised version, which is still valid as of this writing – Feb, 2018) offers rewards for those who find the pattern in the 3 Constructed Response tasks (and btw, Constructed Response means the Written Response to a Prompt). Take a look at the study guide for the EAS exam. You can find it here: http://www.nystce.nesinc.com/Content/STUDYGUIDE/NY_SG_SRI_201.htm

When you are ready to look at the prompts for the writing you will have to do, take a close look at questions 5, 10, and 15. Notice anything?

There is a pattern to these prompts, and knowing that pattern in advance gives you a book’s worth of information on what and how to study.

Did you find the pattern? If you need a hint, let me know – but try it on your own first.

The NYSTCE: One View

I’ve been working with students who are studying for the NYS teacher certification exams for 5 years. When I began, the older exams (LAST, ATS-W, and many Content Specialty Exams (CST)) were on their way out, soon to be replaced by the ALST, the EAS, and those many new CST exams.

The implementation of the revisions to the exams has been fraught. Exams have been launched and then safety-nets put into place, deadlines set and moved and moved again. The ALST, which proved itself to be an unreliable instrument, was pulled, and this reasonable response to a bad test was greeted by an outcry – from those who should have done their homework and therefore known better – that NYS was watering down its standards. To the contrary, the only standard of NYS that should have been in question was the standard they hold the tests to. The ALST was a sham, in my informed opinion, and it was finally shown the door. But not before many, many students in NYS spent a collective thousands of dollars on it. That draining of our students’ resources is what should have launched an outcry.

That’s (part of) the messy backstory. The EAS is being revised, which, in my opinion is unfortunate, since it was the best of the tests – and I define “best” as the one for which prepping for it was actually prepping for the profession, not just the exam. But, although it required students to read texts in multiple genre, analyze information for those texts (called ‘exhibits’), and compose an argument with a stance, reasons, and evidence, it was deemed as not testing literacy and is being reworked. Oh well.

Through this all, students who hope to go on to be certified as K-12 teachers in NYS need to do their course work, complete their field work, and build their understanding, compassion and empathy for the students they will guide in their classrooms. Added to this full plate is the need to prepare for the exams. I want students to work hard to be better readers, writers, and teachers. I don’t want them to needlessly suffer over the NYSCE, and I do want them to practice a model of test-prep that helps them see that they can use a test for their own purposes: I want them to see that they can teach though the test rather than to the test.