"Would-be teachers had two options on their path to a state license last fall. Both were daunting." according to Mará Rose Williams, The Kansas City Star.
|Photo: Kansas City Star|
They could hurry and cram for a test that would soon go away, chock full of material they’d yet to see in class.
Or they could wait a while longer and take their chances on a new, more exacting exam without much sense of their odds of passing or how many times they might end up paying to retake that untested test.
Diana Rogers-Adkinson, dean of the education college at Southeast Missouri State University, said the transition left education students unprepared for either choice.
“It just made me sick to the stomach,” watching so many students fail, said Rogers-Adkinson, who worries it could mean a shortage of teachers, especially in science and math.
Yet others say these weren’t pop quizzes. Prospective teachers, and the universities accepting tuition to prepare them for the classroom, had long known about the switch. If the students weren’t ready for the tests, they say, that reflects failure of either their preparation or the professors who should have guided them.
Missouri state educators switched from the old, Praxis II, exams that prospective teachers needed to pass to get their licenses to the new, Missouri Content Assessment tests, as of September 2014.
Paul Katnik, assistant commissioner for educator quality at the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said teacher candidates had about 15 months to prepare, take and pass the the old exam before it was discontinued.
For many students, rushing to take the old test meant just “putting their head in a book and cramming for an exam they just weren’t ready to take,” Rogers-Adkinson said.
Missouri’s teacher candidates this spring, Rogers-Adkinson said, got caught in the middle of the state transitioning to new subject content exams that they have to pass before they’re certified to teach.
Want to teach math or science, history or English? You have to pass the test that proves you mastered the subject. As more rigor was infused into Missouri K-12 standards, teacher tests got tougher too.
The state could have lowered the passing score the way it did when the new Missouri college teacher-preparation program entrance exam was rolled out, said Dan Gordon, chairman of the professional education department at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville. A low pass rate, Gordon said, would give students and faculty time to get more familiar with the new test, and state officials time to fix problems.
Source: Kansas City Star