In 2000, the Washington State Legislature passed HB 2760, which created the Washington Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB). In addition to its authority and responsibilities related to high standards for Washington educators, the PESB has authority for assessing the basic skills and content knowledge of prospective teachers applying to educator preparation programs and applicants for residency certification in Washington State.
The Washington Educator Skills Tests (WEST) were established as a uniform means of assessing the basic skills competency and content knowledge of all teacher candidates, as proposed by the governor, legislature, state board of education, and superintendent of public instruction. The WEST program administered by the Evaluation Systems group of Pearson includes assessments of both teacher candidates' basic skills competency and their content knowledge.
- The Washington Educator Skills Test—Basic® (WEST–B®) is designed to measure basic skills in reading, mathematics, and writing that are required for teachers to be successful in their educator preparation programs. Passing the WEST–B is also required of individuals prepared and/or certified out of state seeking a Washington teaching certificate. The explicit purpose of the WEST–B is to help identify candidates with the required level of basic skills to perform successfully in an educator preparation program or as a teacher in a public school classroom.
- The Washington Educator Skills Tests—Endorsements™ (WEST–E™) measure the content knowledge required of candidates seeking an endorsement to a Washington teaching certificate and are fully aligned with the state's teacher endorsement competencies and Essential Academic Learning Requirements. The explicit purpose of the WEST–E is to help identify candidates with the required level of content knowledge for Washington's endorsements. Endorsements are required for teaching certificates to demonstrate that teachers have the appropriate subject knowledge for their teaching assignments.
For additional information about the WEST and other educator assessments accepted by the PESB, visit the PESB Assessment website at http://assessment.pesb.wa.gov/.
The WEST are criterion referenced and objective based. A criterion-referenced test is designed to measure a candidate's knowledge and skills in relation to an established standard (a criterion), rather than in relation to the performance of other candidates.
Objectives are broad, meaningful statements that, as a whole, define the content of the test. Each test is composed of questions that measure a candidate's mastery of these test objectives. Committees of Washington State educators reviewed all test objectives developed for the WEST–B and for each WEST–E. A content validation survey, involving randomly selected Washington school personnel as well as Washington college and university faculty members, was conducted for each set of test objectives. Each survey participant reviewed the test objectives to rate their importance. Test questions were developed to match each objective and reflect the knowledge and/or skills described in textbooks, the Washington Essential Academic Learning Requirements, curriculum guides, and teacher endorsement competencies. Washington educators and content specialists then reviewed the test questions to ensure that content is current and accurate.
The test objectives for each field are organized into frameworks that can be found on the WEST website by selecting "Prepare," then selecting the appropriate test or subtest from the dropdown menu.
WEST Test Design
Teachers are required to pass a basic skills test, Washington Educator Skills Test—Basic (WEST–B), and an endorsement test, Washington Educator Skills Test—Endorsement (WEST–E), to hold a valid teaching certificate in Washington public schools.
The WEST–B consists of three subtests and is designed to measure the basic skills in reading, mathematics, and writing that are required for teachers to be successful in their educator preparation programs. The Reading subtest is composed of 60 multiple-choice questions and is designed to assess a candidate's ability to comprehend written text. The Mathematics subtest is also composed of 60 multiple-choice questions and is designed to assess a candidate's ability to understand and apply mathematics concepts and principles. The Writing subtest includes 50 multiple-choice questions and two writing prompts and is designed to assess a candidate's ability to apply the conventions of Standard American English to written language production.
The WEST–E tests measure the subject knowledge required of candidates seeking a content-based teaching assignment. Most WEST–E tests consist of 110 multiple-choice questions. The Elementary Education and Middle Level Humanities tests are each composed of two subtests; each subtest consists of 55 multiple-choice questions. The Designated World Languages test consists of 55 multiple-choice questions. The Designated World Languages: Latin test consists of approximately 70 multiple-choice questions, a translation assignment, and an oral reading assignment.
All tests may include questions that will not count toward an examinee's score. These questions are placed on the test in order to collect information about how the questions will perform under actual testing conditions.
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