Education Week - December 3, 2014 - (Page 6)

New Teacher-Licensing Exams in N.Y. Lead to Subpar Results Wide variation seen across institutions For now, licensing fewer teachers By Stephen Sawchuk A battery of new licensing tests in New York has led to relatively low passing rates for prospective teachers, according to data issued by the state education department. During the 2013-14 testing cycle, 68 percent of candidates passed an exam measuring their grasp of key English/language arts concepts in the Common Core State Standards, and 77 percent passed an exam focused on pedagogy for teaching English-language learners and students with disabilities. Empire State teacher-candidates did better on the Teacher Performance Assessment, or edtpa, a national exam that uses videos in part to measure classroom teaching skills, with 81 percent of them passing. Pass rates on state licensing tests typically fall in the 90 percent to 100 percent range. The results, released last month, shine a spotlight on New York's strategy of using licensing tests as one lever for improving teacher preparation- even as they raise questions about school staffing in the state. New York has a surplus of teachers, especially at the elementary certification level, but enrollments in the state's teacherpreparation programs have fallen. might not be a bad thing, said John B. King Jr., the state's education commissioner. "What's striking in the data is the placement rates [of teachers] are very low. Our challenge is not that we have an undersupply of teachers; we have an oversupply, and too little rigor," he said. Still, the results raised the ire of faculty unions, which contend the new tests were rolled out without enough time for programs and teacher candidates to adjust. Varied Results The three exams-the edtpa, the Educating All Students exam, and the Academic Literacy Skills Test- were put in place between 2009 and 2012. Teacher-candidates in New York must take all three, plus content exams, in order to be licensed. "We wanted to have a comprehensive approach that requires all of those different components," Mr. King said. "We've seen already some important shifts in practice in teacher-preparation institutions; certainly the edtpa has increased focus on clinical preparation and the use of video to analyze teaching practice." Across the United States, about 96 percent of teacher-candidates pass their licensing tests, according to federal data. (Those results are considered to be somewhat inflated, though, because they usually represent only program completers, not all enrolled candidates.) New York's scores were also broken out by institution, and they showed great variation among teaching programs. Teachers College, Columbia " The assessments have not been adequately tested or subjected to validity and reliability studies. ... The results unfairly characterize teacher education students and programs." JAMIE DANGLER United University Professions University, for example, had passing rates on the exams above 90 percent; Touro College, among the largest education schools in the state, had a 29 percent passing rate on the edtpa and passing rates of 51 percent and 61 percent on the other two tests. While the differences across institutions could be a reflection of varied curricular approaches or the colleges' particular orientation toward the new exams, they may also reflect the demographics of the candidates attending the colleges. Historically, minority candidates have tended to post lower scores on licensing tests. According to accounts cited in a New York Times story, some of the state's teacher colleges say they've noticed that dynamic in the scores for their institutions, too. Faculty Pushback Much debate in the state has focused on the edtpa. Teacher-educators in the state have had concerns about that exam both because of its quick rollout-it was selected in 2012 to substitute for a state-crafted version-and because of the role of Pearson, the giant testing company, in overseeing the scoring process. Partly in response to those concerns, New York delayed the date by which all teacher-candidates must pass the exam until July 1, 2015. So far, there has been no action to defer consequences on the two other exams, something that irks United University Professions, a faculty union that counts 17 State University of New York campuses that prepare teachers among its members. The union had filed several open-records requests to obtain the scoring data, which appear at least in part to have prompted the state's decision to release it. "The assessments have not been adequately tested or subjected to validity and reliability studies. They are not ready for prime time," said Jamie Dangler, the vice president for academics at the union. "The results unfairly characterize teacher education students and programs." Ms. Dangler said some teacher education faculty signed up to take the tests themselves last summer to get a better grasp on the content. "It is extremely poor policymaking to base any decisions on the performance of this first group of students, who have really been the guinea pigs in a very incompetently rolled out set of exams," she said. But Sharon P. Robinson, the president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, praised the state for pushing forward with a "gutsy, courageous" plan to be among the first states to require the edtpa for all teachers, and for setting a high cutoff score on the test. She said the overall strong results on the edtpa are proof that the state's efforts to help colleges understand the exam paid off. Now, both the state and programs need to start thinking about how they can use the results to improve their programming. With the data release, "[the scores] are out there," Ms. Robinson said. "Talk about being in the center ring, in the spotlight, on the high wire." Ignite '15 Learning Labs will give you a concentrated and focused dose of knowledge on a hot topic-from leadership to technology to college and career readiness standards. In a lively 20-minute exchange, get some quick and meaningful takeaways on topics such as: n Leading Change in School: What Great Leaders Do n Chaos to Confidence: Tips and Tricks to Help the Busy Administrator Engage directly with presenters and other attendees to get the answers you need at REGISTER TODAY! 6 | EDUCATION WEEK | December 3, 2014 | WHERE SPEED MEETS NEED LEARNING LABS

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - December 3, 2014

Education Week - December 3, 2014
Rules Aim to Heighten Ed. School Monitoring
Parents Get Schooled On New Math Standards
Principals’ Central Role Gets New Attention at Ed. Dept.
Districts Press Publishers On Digital-Content Access
Consortium Sets High Bars For Its Common-Core Tests
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
New Teacher-Licensing Exams In N.Y. Lead to Subpar Results
Obama Grants Deportation Relief To Immigrant Parents
Kindergartners Found to Benefit From ‘Tools of the Mind’
Blogs of the Week
Word Problems Should Be Given At the Start of Lesson, Studies Say
Tech. Vendors Cloudy On K-12 Buying Needs
New Guidance Offers States Roadmap to NCLB Waiver Renewal
Achievement, Dissension Marked Tennessee Chief’s Tenure
States Get Federal Running Room On Teacher-Equity Plans
Blogs of the Week
JOHN CESCHINI: STEM + Art: A Fruitful Combination
KIP ZEGERS: A Teacher, Students, and Poetry in Motion
JEAN HENDRICKSON: Why Not Art for Children’s Sake?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JEFF DEKAL: A Brief Portrait of a Young Artist

Education Week - December 3, 2014