You've heard about it, wondered about it, and now-it's ready for you and your students. I'm talking about the digital BACKstage Technical Theatre Exam for high school students, a joint endeavor of the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT). The selected-response test has officially launched for the 2022-23 school year. Registration is now open here. The exam will be available for the first-round of test takers on September 30. Cost for full-year access in which registered students are eligible to take the exam twice prior to June 30, 2023, is $30 per student for EdTA and USITT members, and $35 for non-members. A bulk rate of $26 per student is also available.
So, what's the big deal? There are lots of ways and tools to help measure student learning in theatre-checklists, rubrics, quizzes, portfolios and more-but not necessarily reliable and comprehensive assessments of students' knowledge and understanding of technical theatre. In a nutshell, BACKstagedefines and assesses the basic knowledge and skills an entry-level entertainment technician should have when entering the workforce or a higher education training program.
The exam consists of one hundred selected response questions, balanced across eight technical theatre areas: Audio, Lighting and Electrics, Venue, Safety, Personnel, Costume/Wardrobe, Rigging, and Scenic Construction. The goal of the exam is to measure a student's understanding and knowledge of each areaat a particular point in their school career; therefore, it should be taken twice, ideally, at the outset of the school year and at its conclusion. As the questions are randomized, the second administration of the test is unlikely to repeat more than a few questions included in the first exam.
To support BACKSTAGE, USITT has created a portfolio of instructor resources to help teachers prepare students, including study guides; student permission forms; proctor guidance document; achievement template form; and instruction in how to access the exam.
Here's some other basic things you need to know about the exam:
Not convinced? Here's five reasons the exam is a good fit for you and your students.
BACKstage:1. Indicates readiness of students entering the job market or higher education. BACKstage was built as a test for entry-level technicians. Completion of the exam this spring can serve a résumé building validation of your students'competence and help them self-assess their own skills and knowledge so they can they plan their own training going forward, whether they are seeking a job or entry into a higher education program.
If this will help you to decide, here's a 20-question sample test you can take:
Finally, some bonus information for those of you attending the EdTA Theatre Education Conference: I'll be co-presenting a BACKstage Exam workshop, along USITT's Education and Training Coordinator Karen Greenfield and Kristi Ross-Clausen, a veteran professional technician who helped create the exam.AND EdTA and USITT are teaming up to give away a select number of student registrations for test at the conference. See you there. Now, go register your students for the BACKstageExam!
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