Question to current teachers: Before you were first hired, were you required to take a personality survey?

I don’t know if it means anything, but I took a Gallup-managed quiz called TeacherInsight not half an hour ago. I assume this is yet another preliminary step before I find out if I can get hired for my local school district’s summer school.

I’m barred from divulging specific contents of the questionnaire, but I doubt that prevents me from wondering aloud why the questions were so repetitive and poorly written.

For example, assume a question asked about the first few minutes of the day before class. You might be asked to choose one of these:

a. I greet students with a smile at the beginning of every day.
b. I’m usually grading papers between periods.
c. As students walk in, I scowl and insult their heritage.
d. I greet every student by the door with a handshake.

There are two safe answers — of which one is obviously preferred — along with one questionable answer and one outrageously horrible answer. Nearly every question was predictable; there was always a “right” answer and a “wrong” answer.

My take on it: If they really meant this to be a serious personality assessment, shouldn’t the differences between the answers be subtle enough so that applicants can’t tell how they should lie?

Don’t look at me; I answered every question honestly. That even includes those about how much I empathize with students and open up to them, and how little I really care about the belligerent students who will never try.

Believe-you-me, my choice to stop caring about the jerkwads for the benefit of the rest of the class will sure look like a severe personal shortcoming, and, to my detriment, I didn’t lie about it.

After all, I don’t doubt that I’ll end up competing for spots against less scrupulous and equally unproven teacher candidates who, unlike me, would have had no problem with lying the way the district wants.

How can this assessment accurately assess anything? How will the district use it? How can this tainted data fairly compare individuals?


Postscript: After writing this blog, I kept reading about how districts use TeacherInsight, and I became progressively more and more horrified. I knew I should have lied when asked about how much I want my students to like me. Forget that research debunked these tests; schools were never all that research-based, anyway.

Godforsaken, worthless Gallup. From now on, I’m sticking to Zogby and Rasmussen.

For more on this, check out my follow-up post.

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  1. dkzody

    Never heard of this, never had to take anything like it, that I remember. That was almost 20 years ago, though, but back then it was more about classroom management skills, and did you have all the correct classwork done so you could file for the paperwork. Some bureaucrat got hold of this along the line and decided it was just a great tool to use to weed out candidates. Who knows what they were thinking. Except they may have been paid by the company who designed the thing.

  2. Isn’t that how these things always work? Sheesh.

  3. I had to answer something like that for a retail job once. The correct answers were so blatantly obvious it had to be useless. (Not that I lied–the questions basically wanted to make sure I wouldn’t come to work cracked out and steal all the money in the register.)

  4. These questions are just about as blatant, although they presuppose a set of values on the applicant. They presuppose that there is exactly one set of values that makes a good teacher, and that some other combination will not work.

    I’m not sold on this test. There are many, many different sorts of great teachers.

  5. Julie

    I agree with your comments about how obsurd this test is and guess what. Apparently I didnt “pass” the test. I was told that I can take the test and reapply NEXT YEAR!!!! GEEZ IM GLAD I SPENT 5 YEARS WORKING 2 JOBS AND RAISING A SON ALL ON MY OWN TO GET A TEACHING DEGREE TO HAVE SOME TEST TELL ME IM NOT QUALIFIED!!!

  6. Marisa

    The public school systems place so much emphasis on accountability, and parents and students have the right to their files as per the Freedom of Information Act… yet teachers are DENIED this very right in taking this test. We can’t get any feedback, we don’t receive results, we don’t know exactly how school districts are using the information, nor the qualifications of whoever might be determining our “teacher insight.”

    Someone who has had to take this useless test should file a class action lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.

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