• To the extent that the tests provide accurate measurements, setting higher passing scores would be expected to increase the proportion of teacher candidates in the hiring pool who are competent in the knowledge and skills measured by the tests, although higher passing scores will tend to lower the number of candidates who pass the test. To the extent that test scores have measurement error, setting higher passing scores could eliminate competent candidates.

  • Reducing the number of new licensed teachers could require districts to make difficult choices, such as hiring uncredentialed teachers, increasing class sizes, or increasing salaries to attract licensed teachers from other districts and states.

  • 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.

Recommendations
  • States should follow professionally accepted standard-setting methods and document the methods they use to set passing scores on initial licensure tests. This documentation should describe the work of standard-setting panels and the basis on which policy decisions were made by the officials setting the final passing scores. Documentation should be publicly available to users and other interested parties.

  • If states raise passing scores as a way to increase the competence of new teachers, they should examine not only the impact on teacher competence but also the effects of raising passing scores on applications to teacher education, on the supply of new teachers, and on the diversity of the teaching force.

Evaluating Licensing Tests

Solid technical characteristics and fairness are key to the effective use of tests. The work of measurement specialists, test users, and policy makers suggests criteria for judging the appropriateness and technical quality of initial teacher licensure tests. The committee drew on these to develop criteria that it believes users should aspire to in developing and evaluating initial teacher licensure tests. The committee used these evaluation criteria to evaluate a sample of five widely used tests produced by ETS. The tests the committee reviewed met most of its criteria for technical quality, although there were some areas for improvement. The committee also attempted to review a sample of NES tests. Despite concerted and repeated efforts, though, the committee was unable to obtain suffi-



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