Washington Educator Skills Tests (WEST)
In 2000, the Washington State Legislature passed house bill 2760, titled "An act relating to standards for educator quality," into law. HB 2760 established the Washington Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB). The PESB was tasked with establishing an assessment system for prospective teachers to verify that new teachers have the basic skills and subject knowledge necessary to teach at a high standard.
The PESB implemented the basic skills test, called the Washington Educator Skills Test–Basic (WEST–B), in August 2002. PESB originally selected the popular Praxis II series of examinations to assess content knowledge, but ultimately determined that the Praxis II did not fulfill the legal requirements of the state of Washington. In the place of Praxis II, PESB implemented the Washington Educator Skills Test–Endorsements (WEST–E) examinations in September 2005.
In March 2013, the PESB decided to phase in National Evaluation Series (NES) examinations to replace certain WEST–E content examinations. This multi-year transition began in September 2014. As of May 2015, the transition timeline stated that some WEST-E exams would not be replaced with NES exams until as late as 2021, and certain subjects (such as History, Dance, and World Languages) will continue to use WEST-E exams with no replacement planned.
Function of the Test
The WEST examinations are professional certification examinations for educators in the state of Washington. There are two main categories of WEST tests: Washington Educator Skills Test–Basic (WEST–B) and Washington Educator Skills Test–Endorsements (WEST–E).
The WEST-B is a basic-skills test comprises three subtests: reading, mathematics, and writing. It is primarily used to determine eligibility for admission to teacher preparation programs in the state of Washington. In 2013-2014, 3,546 individuals took the full WEST-B examination, of whom 2,531 (71.4%) passed on the first try. The first-time pass rates for the subsections of the exam were 95.5% for Reading, 93.6% for Mathematics, and 88% for Writing.
The WEST-E tests are content examinations which verify teachers' knowledge in their chosen subjects. PESB reports that in 2013-2014, 31 of the 37 WEST-E examinations had first-time pass rates above 80%.
All WEST-B and WEST-E examinations are computer-based tests which are given at Pearson Professional Centers. All examinations have a scaled passing score of 240. All examinations except the WEST-E Latin examination are offered year-round by appointment; the Latin examination has four testing windows per year. Unsuccessful candidates who wish to retake a WEST-B or WEST-E examination must wait 45 days before retaking the exam.
The WEST-B examination comprises three subtests (reading, writing, and mathematics) with a combined time limit of 5 hours. The fee to take the exam is $155 for the full exam or $75 for single subtests.
Almost all WEST-E examinations cost $155 to take, have time limits of between 120 and 150 minutes, and have no separate subtests. Exceptions to these rules include the Designated World Languages test ($95, 75 minutes) and the Middle Level Humanities exams (two subtests; 75 minutes each; $155 for both tests or $95 for one test).
All NES examinations are offered at Pearson Professional Centers year-round by appointment and have scaled passing scores of 220. Test fees are $95 for each full exam or $50 for a single subtest of a multi-part exam. Unsuccessful candidates who wish to retake a NES examination must wait 30 days between test dates.
The WEST exams cover a wide range of tests to certify educators in Washington in a variety of skills and settings. Most of the exams in this series are computer based, containing around 110 multiple choice questions. The time limit to complete these exams is generally around two hours and fifteen minutes to two and a half hours. There are a few tests containing constructed response questions.
The WEST exams are offered at Pearson Professional Centers. There, candidates for a WEST test are required to present a valid, government-issued identification containing a photo and signature for admission. Personal items are not allowed in the testing room, and must be stored in a locker provided by the testing center. This includes cell phones and other electronics, study materials, food, drinks, hats, bags, and calculators. For tests that allow calculators, an on-screen calculator will be provided.
- Sample WEST-E Social Studies Practice Questions
- Which of the following was an example of violence in cities that occurred as a result of rapid urbanization in America in the 1830s?
- A. Democrats opposed Whigs in New York City so strenuously that the state militia was called in.
- B. Both New York City and Philadelphia experienced a series of racial riots during the mid-1830s.
- C. A Catholic convent was attacked and plundered by a violent mob in New York City in 1834
- D. All of the above occurred in American cities during the 1830s.
- Which of the following is most likely to benefit from inflation?
- A. A bond investor who owns fixed-rate bonds
- B. A retired widow with no income other than fixed Social Security payments
- C. A person who has taken out a fixed-rate loan
- D. A local bank who has loaned money out at fixed rate
- Sample WEST-E Elementary Education Practice Questions
- Which of the following processes uses electrical charges to separate substances?
- A. Spectrophotometry
- B. Chromatography
- C. Centrifugation
- D. Electrophoresis
- In which taxonomic group are organisms most alike?
- A. Phylum
- B. Family
- C. Class
- D. Order
- Sample WEST-E Special Education Practice Questions
- A resource teacher notices one of her students has made the same reading error numerous times the past few days. She decides the student wrongly believes that ‘ou’ is always pronounced as it is in the word through. She corrects this misunderstanding by showing the student word families containing words like though, ought, ground. This strategy is called:
- A. Corrective feedback
- B. Positive reinforcement
- C. Consistent repitition
- D. Corrective Support
- Collaborative Strategic Reading (CSR) depends upon which two practices?
- A. Cooperative learning and reading comprehension.
- B. Reading and metacognition.
- C. Reading comprehension and metacognition.
- D. Cooperative learning and metacognition.
- Sample WEST-B Practice Questions
- Which of the following choices expresses 11/25 as a percent?
- A. 11%
- B. 36%
- C. 40%
- D. 44%
- E. 49%
- Mary's basketball team is losing tonight's game 42-15. Mary scores a three-point shot. How many more three-point shots will someone on her team have to score in order to tie the game?
- A. 5
- B. 6
- C. 7
- D. 8
- E. 9
Recent and Future Developments
On September 3, 2014, WEST-E examinations were retired for the following subjects and replaced with NES examinations:
- Early Childhood Education
- Elementary Education
- Middle Level Mathematics
- Secondary English Language Arts
- Secondary Mathematics
The following WEST-E examinations will be retired on September 1, 2016 and replaced with NES examinations:
- Earth and Space
- Middle Level Science
- Visual Arts
- General Music
Answers to Sample Questions
Social Studies: 1;D 2;C Elementary Education: 1;D 2;B Special Education: 1;A 2;A WEST-B: 1;D 2;D
- Washington State Legislature - HB 2760 May 28 2015
- WEST - About the Tests May 28 2015
- PESB - Assessment Report 2012-2013 May 28 2015
- PESB - Washington Educator Skills Test Endorsement (WEST-E) May 28 2015
- PESB - NES replacement for WEST-E May 28 2015
- PESB - WEST to NES timeline May 28 2015
- PESB - Assessment Report 2013-2014 May 28 2015
- WEST - WEST–E Designated World Languages: Latin (101) May 28 2015
- WEST - Retake Policy May 28 2015
- WEST - WEST–B: Reading, Writing, Mathematics (095/096/097) May 28 2015
- WEST - WEST–E Designated World Languages (100) May 28 2015
- WEST - WEST–E Middle Level Humanities (Subtests 1 and 2) (010/011) May 28 2015
- WEST - NES Retake Policy May 28 2015
- WEST - WEST-B - Requesting Alternative Testing Arrangements May 28 2015
- WEST - WEST-E - Requesting Alternative Testing Arrangements May 28 2015
- WEST - NES - Requesting Alternative Testing Arrangements May 28 2015
- WEST Tests 11 May 2015
- Test Day 11 May 2015