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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
mation made available by NES and the states to evaluate NES-developed tests to be problematic and a concern. It is also significant because NES-developed tests are administered to very large numbers of teacher candidates.
The initial licensure tests currently in use rely almost exclusively on content-related evidence of validity. Few, if any, developers are collecting evidence about how test results relate to other relevant measures of candidates’ knowledge, skills, and abilities.
It is important to collect validity data that go beyond content-related validity evidence for initial licensing tests. However, conducting high-quality research of this kind is complex and costly. Examples of relevant research include investigations of the relationships between test results and other measures of candidate knowledge and skills or on the extent to which tests distinguish candidates who are at least minimally competent from those who are not.
The processes used to develop current tests, the empirical studies of test content, and common-sense analyses suggest the importance of at least some of what is measured by these initial licensure tests. Beginning teachers should know how to read, write, and do basic mathematics; they should know the content areas they teach.
The lower passing rates for minority teacher candidates on current licensure tests pose problems for schools and districts in seeking a qualified and diverse teaching force. Setting substantially higher passing scores on licensure tests is likely to reduce the diversity of the teacher applicant pool, further adding to the difficulty of obtaining a diverse school faculty.