The Test Teachers Can’t Pass

The now famous Wesman Personnel Classification Test that started all the trouble in the Dallas Independent School District was not designed specifically to examine teacher competence. The test that 36 per cent of the teacher applicants, 50 per cent of the teachers hired in 1977, and 54 per cent of the new administrators could not handle is essentially a measure of verbal reasoning and mathematical ability. Taking only 28 minutes to administer, the Wesman test has nothing to do with anything a students learns in the 18 hours of college education courses required as a minimum for Texas certification. The “subject matter” of the exam, insofar as it has one, should theoretically have been mastered by a college graduate before leaving the tenth grade. The Wesman consists of sixty closely guarded multiple-choice questions, forty of which are verbal analogies. Three Wesman-type examples follow: For vertical image:

The correct answers are fish-air, book-army, life-dark. Imagine a teacher who answered “apple,” “tree,” or “wet” on the first part of the first question trying to explain to your child the causes of the Civil War.

A few of the twenty mathematics questions involve obscure concepts like square roots and percentages, but all work out in round figures. Here are four examples in ascending order of difficulty: For vertical image:

Texas Monthly will give no prizes for working out the correct solutions. The cutoff score suggested by DISD researchers was 35. They calculated that there was a 99 per cent probability that a person scoring lower than 35 would not earn a score of 600 on the Educational Testing Service’s National Teacher Exam.

Originally the DISD board had mandated the NTE. But only

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