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  • 1.  Welcome to the Backstage Exam!

    Posted 09-22-2022 14:30
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    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:

    Passing is 58%, based on analysis of pilot scores, using the Modified-Angoff Method.
    Teachers will receive a password and link to the exam after they have completed registrations of their students.
    Students may register as individuals through the USITT Education and Training page.
    Each student registrant will have a unique identifier code that will ensure privacy. No student data will be shared.
    Students will have access to their scores in each area once they have completed the exam.
    Teachers will have access to a spreadsheet that will include their students' cumulative scores.

    Not convinced? Here's five reasons the exam is a good fit for you and your students.  


    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.

    2. Assesses the efficacy of your instruction and curriculum. Exam test scores can clarify the strength of your curriculum and teaching practice across all areas of technical theatre. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you make the case for specific professional development that will improve your instruction and student learning and create a more fully realized curriculum that allows for student growth over time.
    3. Measures the tools and resources that support your program. The exam addresses 8 different areas of technical theatre. Teaching each aspect, whether it is costuming, lighting, or sound, demands sophisticated state-of-the-art tools that allow hands-on learning. This is an opportunity for you to advocate for hardware that can help your students become the well-rounded technicians they need to be successful.
    4. Validates technical theatre as a viable CTE career path. If your school is invested in Career and Technical Education, BACKstage's reliable measurement of student knowledge and skill serves as "program completer" test that validates the discipline and can help you make the case for technical theatre with your district and state department of education which, in turn, may support your application for public funding of your program.
    5. Showcases a school program and students who are not always honored. In these challenging times, it has been hard for teachers and students to re-enter the in-school environment. Live, onstage productions are back but it's not been easy. BACKstage is good news about a school program and its students that do not always get their due. Taking the exam this year is a sign that learning is taking place, that students are growing and that they matter.

    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!


    James Palmarini
    EdTA Advocacy and Policy Advisor

  • 2.  RE: Welcome to the Backstage Exam!

    Posted 09-23-2022 11:54
    Congratulations on putting this together! It will go a long way towards consistency in tech training and help those who want to move on to a university training program, or those who want an entry-level job in the industry, to be better prepared for it. The five reasons listed above are right on the money.

    I took the sample exam and was surprised at how comprehensive it was (and how much I've forgotten since college!). Scored 15 out of 20.

    George F. Ledo
    Set designer

  • 3.  RE: Welcome to the Backstage Exam!

    Posted 11-14-2022 10:19
    Thanks you soo much. I want such kind of tech trainig program to get a job at industry level. And you have provided me such a great platform.
    Before this, I did not have much experience in the industry to do job but now I become one of the experienced people in my company.

    Elliott Benit