Why Not Raise Initial Test Score Reqs?

Caption:  "This teacher's initial licensing exam was too easy," Rahm told his chief of staff the other day. "Make it harder, will you?"

No not really.  But the gist of this recent EdWeek article about teach licensing (Questions About Rigor of Teacher Tests) is that the tests in many states are still way too easy -- the average score is higher than the passing score in the states examined -- but that simply raising them won't necessarily make for a better prepared teaching force. Why not?  I'm not exactly sure. The VA average is 172, compared to a cutoff of 143.  Nationally, passing rates on these tests are 96 percent, compared to 54 percent on the California bar exam.   What about IL?  The first round of IL data from 2010 can be found here.  I'm guessing it says that IL's cut score is low, its pass rate is very high.

Raising the cut score won't solve everything, of course, and I know that many institutions make education majors take and pass the tests before they're admitted into the program (in order to be able to show a high pass rate among graduates), but I'm not clear on why a higher cut score (along with a better test and better preparation in general) wouldn't help.

Bored?  How about some other teacher quality news:

Detailed Review of 10 Teacher-Evaluation Systems Unveiled Teacher Beat

Teacher Training Programs Lack Oversight Hechinger/ Schoolbook: W


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    You are a year behind Alex, they raised the test difficulty a number of years ago and last year raised the cut score.

    It effectively eliminated 90% of the Latino and 95% of the African American candidates. Studies showed that higher basic skills scores showed zero correlation with teaching effectiveness and in fact contributed to inconsistency and transiency at high need schools.

    Where the "how could it hurt" argument fails is that test scores are already a huge portion of teacher cert while vital skills that teachers need are not weighed or considered at all.

    A teacher is not a content presentation automaton. These reforms have the net impact of ensuring that poor rural white towns--not just poor urban areas of color--cannot provide their own consistent long-term educators. They condemn students to a revolving door of teachers who, for the most part, are uninterested in devoting their lives to the communities they serve.

    Developing the best possible teachers is an important priority for our students. Let's develop energy and resources to programs and policies that actually do that instead of destabilizing students' lives further.

  • thanks, xian -- what's the connection between higher requirements and transience? maybe you can point us to the studies.

    as for raising the scores and difficulty, i'm not sure i see the impact on minority candidates as being more important than the impact on kids, and if there's no impact on kids of higher scores then what should we do instead of having a test to screen teachers out?

    thanks / ar

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    In reply to Alexander Russo:

    It's been awhile, and today's kind of crazy, but IIRC, Goldhaber 2007 is the best research on the subject. I don't believe that he speculates why higher scoring teachers are more likely to leave low performing schools more quickly.

    If I had to guess, though, I think it makes sense that 1) They are less likely to be from the community or a similar community. So they are less likely to put down roots and 2) They are less likely to put up with consistent disrespect and negativity as it is less likely to have been a part of their cultural background.

    Of course the impact on minorities is not as important as the impact on students. However in this case, when you combine the lack of impact on students of higher score (or negative impact) with the studies that show that sharing a cultural background with at least one of your instructors increases achievement, I believe it suggests that this strategy hurts student achievement.

    Instead of a test, some states are looking toward a more residency style strategy. I think starting students in the classroom very early--even in high school, and certainly before they are evaluated for content would be a good step. Then work evaluate on portfolio. I would include consistency as part of the evaluative process. Someone who is uninterested in staying in the profession could go work on a cruise ship or something where they can stepping stone their career without damaging children.

  • The bigger problem is a dysfunctional CPS and keeping people in the profession as it is. Dumbing down the profession the way CPS does it and placing mundane and inane mandates that promote school wide test prep over having a richer curriculum ( despite CPS BS saying the opposite) in and of itself is pushing great and good teachers out of the profession or district 299! The problem lies with the mayors and "leadership" team, they appoint. Don't forget the Millionaires CPS School Board!

  • Alexander, what is the impact on students of higher teacher test score requirements? Are you aware of any studies that show how students are affected?

    I think Xian makes an important point about teaching being more than a simple information delivery system. The reasons test scores should not be weighted so heavily for teachers are the same reasons test scores should not be weighted so heavily for students: they don't really tell us what most people think they tell us and they are a very, very shallow assessment of any skill or knowledge.

  • DNA
    That's where you find the ability of one human to
    impart knowledge to another human period.
    Some people have this ability and other people,
    just as smart or smarter,other do not.
    All tests only measure the people who wrote it anyhow.

    Raising the standards ,making the test harder do not measure
    one ability to impart such knowledge.What it does is freeze out of a profession many people who should be in a classroom with kids.
    Brains, and test taking ability gets you in the classroom, but once you
    close the door that becomes moot.

  • Rahm fails badly to BS Chicagoans and the World. It takes the UK Guardian to expose the Rahm as a fraud.

    Nato talks security and peace, Chicago has neither
    The paradox of such a city hosting this summit lays bare the brutal way in which inequality is globally maintained and locally replicated

  • In reply to viniciusdm:

    Reading the comments, it looks like the author is recent emigre who now resides in our fair city and thinks it quite lovely but for the filth who randomly shot down children in some of our neighborhoods.

    You can't blame the depravity of a very few -- even when it has a too wide an impact -- on the leadership of a City. Its causes are too deep and too fundamental to be laid at the feet of those who have so little real influence over how people live. Poverty has always existed but it has not always resulted in depraved crminal behavior. On the contrary, it often results in more inspiring conduct. When you have random shootings, you have to ask what part of the community's soul is missing that such things happen so commonly.

    Way to stand by your city, man! Way to pile on to make it look bad! Really good, loyal instincts. Proud moment for you.

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