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June 12, 2012
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:

New testing center meets student needs

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has opened one of the first testing centers in western Pennsylvania offering education majors an approved site for taking the new Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests.

To become a certified teacher, all education majors at the bachelor’s degree level must take and meet Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) qualifying scores in reading, mathematics and writing. The PAPA exams are part of PECT. Early childhood and special education majors also take content area PECT tests.

Until SRU opened its center in mid May, students had to travel to Pittsburgh or Erie to take the online exams, said John Snyder, SRU associate director of the Office of Career Development and Education and test center administrator.

“All teacher candidates must pass standardized tests and, to support Slippery Rock University students, we have established a computerized testing center in McKay Education Building,” said Kathleen Strickland, dean of the College of Education. “This onsite center will enable our students to take these high-stakes tests in a modern, newly equipped lab on their own campus. In addition to certification testing, this center will soon be able to also administer tests such as the Graduate Record Examination and Miller Analogies Test for our students pursuing graduate study.”

The McKay Testing Center, equipped with computers, private cubicles and a required check-in area, has been certified as a testing site by Pearson VEU, the company that administers the PECT tests, Snyder said. The testing center also administers computerized Praxis exams delivered by Educational Testing Service. Secondary and K-12 education majors are required to take Praxis II exams in addition to the PAPA. The center is open to students from other institutions.

"The reason we wanted to provide this service was to make it convenient for our education majors to take these required tests right here on campus and not have to travel to Erie or Pittsburgh,” Snyder said. “They don’t have to worry about parking or how to get to the site. They can concentrate on taking the test.”

Snyder said the center, in 215 McKay, was designed to meet the testing certification standards of both Pearson VUE and ETS. The testing organizations require a glass-encased check-in area, privacy for each test taker and a configuration that enables an administrator to see the test takers at all times, Snyder said. SRU’s testing center offers eight testing workstations.

The College of Education provided funding for the computers and furniture.

Snyder said the center delivers Praxis II and PECT tests on the same computers but cannot deliver the two tests at the same time. One week the center offers Praxis and the next week it offers PECT tests.

Snyder determines the hours of operation for each testing organization, ensures that regulations are followed and serves as a liaison between the University and testing companies. He also supervisors graduates students serving as test proctors.

Students schedule test times with Pearson VEU and use the test center when it is convenient for them, Snyder said.