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Increasingly Difficult Teacher License Exams Impact Goal of Diversifying Work Force

Increasingly Difficult Teacher License Exams Impact Goal of Diversifying Work Force

It has long been a concern that education schools and programs are producing inadequate teachers and states are responding with more difficult teacher licensing exams. As a result, passing rates on licensing exams have fallen, particularly from minority candidates to again raise controversy over the performance gap.

The common licensing exam, Praxis Core, has been amended in 31 states to be a more difficult version of the exam. Data from the Educational Testing Service, according to The New York Times, has revealed that since October 2013, 55 percent of white candidates have passed the math portion, with only 21.5 percent of first-time African American test-takers and 35 percent of Hispanic test-takers doing the same.

"A similar gap was seen on the reading and writing portions," the article said.

Two states that have implemented more difficult licensing exams have already been forced to reduce or postpone requirements from extensive complaints. In New York and Illinois, complaints of students not having enough time to prepare and adjust to the new exams as well as the effect on minority candidates has caused a halt in the new standards, the Times said.

"Racial disparities have been seen on teacher licensing exams for years. They have become more pressing as states add tests or make them harder to pass, part of a national effort to weed out the least able candidates, who often wind up teaching the poorest students," the article said.

The debate revolves around whether to implement increasingly rigorous standards to produce what is perceived to be the best-possible quality teaching force, or to assess and only include on exams skills necessary to the job of being a teacher so as to not "outweigh the disparate impact on minority candidates."

"Harriet R. Fayne, the dean of Lehman’s School of Education, noted that English is not the first language of many Lehman students, who often come from less rigorous high schools with a high poverty rate — the kinds of schools that are difficult to staff, and where Lehman-educated teachers themselves often end up," the article said.

Dr. Fayne fears that the cyclical process will force hopeful-teachers out of the classroom altogether and reverse recent improvements made to diversifying the teaching workforce.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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