ciations, and test developers bring the intellectual and financial resources of several organizations to this difficult work.

  • It is crucial that states use multiple forms of evidence in making decisions about teacher candidates. Licensure systems should be designed to rely on a comprehensive but parsimonious set of high-quality indicators.

  • States, test developers, and professional organizations should continue exploring joint development of initial teacher licensing tests for the knowledge and skill areas they have in common. Federal and state government and private organizations should appropriate funds to support this kind of collaboration.

Making Decisions About Candidates Based on Licensure Tests

States set passing scores on licensure tests based on judgments about the levels of knowledge and skill needed for minimally competent beginning teaching. Although many states rely on commonly used standard-setting procedures, there is little documentation about these procedures and how states actually use this information in arriving at a final decision about passing scores. In attempts to raise teacher standards, some states have recently raised their passing scores for particular tests. Some report having set passing scores that are higher than those of other states.

On all of the tests the committee reviewed, minority candidates had lower passing rates than nonminority candidates did on their initial testing attempts. Though differences between the passing rates of candidate groups eventually decrease because many unsuccessful test takers retake and pass the tests, eventual passing rates for minority candidates are still lower than those for nonminority test takers.

Initial licensure tests are only one factor influencing the supply of new teachers. The quality and size of the pool of new teachers depend on many things, including recruiting efforts, other licensing requirements, labor market forces, licensing reciprocity, teacher salaries, and the conditions under which teachers work.

  • States differ in how high they set passing scores. The committee does not know the extent to which this variation in passing scores reflects differences among states in standard-setting methods; state teaching and learning standards; the characteristics of applicant pools; or different concerns about measurement error, teacher quality, or teacher supply.

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