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USITT and EdTA Launch Technical Theatre Pilot Exam in High Schools

Stage Directions • FeatureIndustry News • September 8, 2020

The United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) and the Educational Theatre Association(EdTA) have selected 171 schools from 39 states and Taiwan to participate in the BACKstage Technical Theatre Pilot Exam, a digital test for high school students designed to measure their competency in a broad range of technical theatre knowledge. Several thousand students are expected to take the pilot exam, which includes both a pre- and post-test. The pre-test is available between September 8 and October 22, 2020, and the post-test will be conducted April 15 through June 1, 2021.

USITT, the recognized expert in the field of technical theatre, developed the exam as part the organization’s eSET program (Essential Skills for Entertainment Technicians). Their partnership with EdTA on BACKstage Exam Pilot is intended to further both organizations’ desire to gain greater recognition and understanding of technical theatre as a viable Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathway for students with an interest in the profession.

USITT Executive Director David Grindle said the overwhelming response to the exam has made the need clear. “I am thankful to the people over the years who have put the work into our eSET program and to the team that used that program as the basis for this exam. Through partnerships between organizations like USITT and EdTA, we can bring together the people necessary to make something unique like BACKstage.”

According to James Palmarini, EdTA director of educational policy, the preliminary goal of the pilot is to refine the test to determine the suitability of individual questions for most high school students regularly engaged in technical theatre instruction. He added, “EdTA and USITT hope to make the BACKstage exam publicly available within a year after the completion of the field testing, with the ultimate goal of gaining state and industry recognition for the test.”

Click here to see the 171 schools from 39 states that’s participating in the BACKstage Technical Theatre Pilot Exam.

Further information from USITT:
Further information from EdTA:

About USITT:
USITT connects performing arts design and technology communities to ensure a vibrant dialogue among practitioners, educators, and students. USITT was founded in 1960 as an organization to promote dialogue, research, and learning among practitioners of theatre design and technology. Today, the Institute boasts thousands of members at all levels of their careers and has embraced the new technologies being used in entertainment. USITT is now the leader in life-long learning opportunities for the entertainment design and technology industry.

About the Educational Theatre Association:
The Educational Theatre Association is an international association with more than 120,000 active members. EdTA’s mission is shaping lives through theatre education: honoring student achievement in theatre; supporting teachers by providing professional development, resources, and recognition; and influencing public opinion that theatre education is essential and builds life skills. EdTA is the home of the International Thespian Society, an honorary organization established at nearly 5,000 schools, which has inducted more than 2.4 million theatre students since its founding in 1929. EdTA also produces the International Thespian Festival,, and Theatre Educator Pro. The Educational Theatre Foundation is the philanthropic arm of EdTA.


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