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Growing up in a small town in Texas, Charles knew early on that he wanted a career in education. When his parents bought him a monstrous chalkboard one year, he officially opened a school in his bedroom. His regular students were the three Linebarger girls who lived next door. "I subjected them to endless hours of cursive handwriting practice," he admits.
His enthusiasm for teaching meant that he was a serious student, but standardized tests posed challenges for him. "I always did well, but I would miss a few questions each time because I would argue that more than one option was correct." His other challenge was his frustration with the content of reading tests. "I wasted a lot of testing time off-task, gazing out the windows if I could, and wondering 'Who writes this stuff? It's sooo boooring.'"
Not then, and not even years later, did he think that one day he would be responsible for writing the content of reading and writing assessments. But in his master's program, while earning a degree in English and taking a course in education, Charles became a freelance writer of passages and items for a test publisher. Later, after a few years of teaching in public schools and at the college level, Charles entered the assessment world on a full-time basis as a reading and writing test specialist.
For the past twelve years, Charles has worked in assessment for three major test publishers and on testing programs for many states, including California, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia, as well as on norm-referenced achievement tests such as Stanford and Metropolitan. "Through the years, from talking to teachers in various arenas, I came to understand that teachers want and deserve to be informed about tests, but currently they feel either uninformed or misinformed."
After completing a PhD in curriculum and instruction at the University of Texas at Austin, Charles began writing down everything he could think of to help teachers who are preparing students for their state's reading test. The results are his two books: What Every Elementary Teacher Needs to Know About Reading Tests (From Someone Who Has Written Them) and What Every Middle School Teacher Needs to Know About Reading Tests.
Charles lives in Austin, Texas, and likes to travel when he can sneak away. His vice is spending too much money on children's and young adult books. His favorites are "everything ever written by Deborah Wiles, Jon Scieszka, Sharon Creech, Jeff Kinney, and Kate DiCamillo." He justifies the hobby by adding, "I wasn't much of a reader when I was young. It was the '70s and the choices were pitiful by today's standards. I think I'm trying to make up for it now." Charles also enjoys meeting his favorite authors at professional conferences.