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The following comment was posted by a frustrated teacher in Florida, who has had to take a Pearson exam again and again. In the past, 86% of applicants passed the exam on the first try, she writes. After Pearson revised the exam in 2014, only 24% passed on the first attempt.
“I came across your blog after making a search using the following words: Why can’t I pass the Florida Educational Leadership Exam 3.0 (FELE 3.0)? I read one entry in your blog that made me realize I may not alone, and inspired me to share my own experience dealing with Pearson. I thank you deeply for your blog and the opportunity to share. I have been trying to find an answer to my question for exactly 12 months. I took the FELE 3.0 four times since last year and have not been able to pass one of its four sections. I am retaking it again this coming week. The exam used to be three subtests, but Pearson or the state split the last subtest into two parts, which are deemed today the most difficult by Florida university professors. I was able to pass that subtest and the second subtest the first time around. My battle a year later is still trying to pass the first subtest of this state exam.
“I have been a teacher in Florida for 13 years. I am certified in two areas. I wanted to pursue my master’s degree for several years and finally was able to do so in the summer of 2013 by enrolling into a two year educational leadership program at a local state university. Throughout my two years of study, every single one of my professors found me to be a very intelligent candidate. They shared their observations about my research abilities and commitment and constantly told me I was a great student. I aced every single one of my courses with 100%, except for one where my final passing grade was a 96%. For two years, I thought I was doing great, until I sat to take the mandatory and upgraded Florida Educational Leadership Examination 3.0. The university will not grant me my diploma until I pass that exam.
“The new exam has been around since January 2014. They call it the FELE 3.0 to differentiate it from the previous FELEs. I found out that about 86% of candidates who sat for the older FELEs used to pass the exam the first time. Now, only 24% of candidates taking the new FELE 3.0 passed the first time in 2015!! Yes, Pearson and the State of Florida made the test more rigorous, but give me a break; only 24% are passing this exam the first time?! The rest of us keep taking subtests of the exam several times, with some of us missing the 200 mark within 10 points or much less. In my case, I have failed it by 3 points twice! Several of my classmates from a year ago are still struggling with passing some subtests of the test as well. In the meantime, Pearson is laughing its way to the bank.
“The infuriating thing about my experience is that:
“1. Every time I sit for the subtest, I have to pay Pearson the entire exam fee of $225, as if I’m taking the entire 7-hour exam all over again. I am only taking a two-hour subtest. They lower the fee for the third subtest because it is the one most candidates are not passing, but those of us having to retest on other sections have to pay the full fee.
“2. I have to remain enrolled at the university and paying tuition until I pass the exam (no one can give me a straight answer to the question: Is this a state or university policy? They keep giving me the run around.) In the meantime, I owe Sally Mae $70,000 so far for a master’s degree I have not yet finished because I fail the state exam by a few points. Yes, $70K. No kidding.
“3. I have to wait a minimum of 3 weeks to find out how I did in the test, which increases the amount of wait time (and keeps me longer in limbo).
“4. Pearson charges you $75 if you want to know what questions you missed, but don’t offer any guidance as to how to prepare better to pass the next time. On top of that, you have to wait longer, 31 days, to sit for the exam after doing this. (They really milk it.)
“5. I have had to find my own resources to study from (basically national research and studies I find on the web) since the exam is so new and nothing like the older one. Most of the FELE resources I’ve had access to, including one seminar I had to pay on my own, are outdated).
“6. When I contacted the state twice to find out where I can study from (because my university had no clue), they gave me a list of reference books. I bought every single one of them, spending a lot of money on books that have vast information. I don’t know what to pinpoint and what is it I am still missing that is making me fail by 3 points! My professors are at a loss too. I found out the second time when calling the state that my calls are re-routed to Pearson, who refused to tell me who they were. I only know it was Pearson because of the area code of the number, which is in Andover, Massachusetts.
“Most people know that, because of all the major changes the Common Core State Standards brought to education, everything else has changed, including how schools are expected to be managed. Now, administrators are called to be instructional leaders rather than the building managers they once were. This is fine with me; I agree with all of that. I agree that rigor needs to be increased in most classrooms and that students must be challenged. I welcome school reform, but not at the expense of companies getting richer from those who cannot afford to continue taking exams and taking loans until they pass a state requirement that doesn’t really measure the real-time success of an aspiring administrator. I am not OK with an organization such as Pearson getting rich from unsuspecting graduate candidates.
“I am getting ready to take the exam again for the fifth time this coming week. Will I pass it? Will I not? If the exam is rigged to the point that African Americans and Hispanics cannot pass it, then I am royally screwed. I am Latina and black. Here I am, with my career in limbo because I cannot pass a Pearson exam by three miserable points. I really want to know what the hell is going on. I would like to see more people with my experience come forward and speak out. Something needs to be done about this.”