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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
tween beginning teachers who are at least minimally competent and those who are not regarding the knowledge and skills the tests are intended to measure. This research should include evidence on a broad range of teacher competencies. Such research is likely to improve the development of teacher licensure tests. Within the limits of privacy law, states should make their raw data available to the research community to facilitate development and validity research on initial teacher licensure tests.
SHOULD TEACHER LICENSURE TESTS BE USED TO HOLD STATES AND INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE QUALITY OF TEACHER PREPARATION AND LICENSURE?
Making Decisions About Programs Based on Licensure Tests
Title II of the Higher Education Act was enacted to achieve four goals: to improve student achievement; to improve the quality of the current and future teaching force by improving the preparation of prospective teachers and enhancing professional development activities; to hold institutions of higher education accountable for preparing beginning teachers to have the necessary teaching skills and to be highly competent in the academic content areas in which they plan to teach; and to recruit highly qualified individuals, including individuals from other occupations.
It is reasonable to hold teacher education institutions accountable for the quality of their teacher preparation programs.
By their design and as currently used, initial teacher licensure tests fall short of the intended policy goals for their use as accountability tools and as levers for improving teacher preparation and licensing programs. The public reporting and accountability provisions of Title II may encourage erroneous conclusions about the quality of teacher preparation.
Although the percentage of graduates who pass initial licensure tests provides an entry point for evaluating an institution’s quality, simple comparisons among institutions based on their passing rates are difficult to interpret for many reasons. These include the fact that institutions have different educational missions and recruiting practices, their students have different entry-level qualifications, teacher education programs have different entry and exit testing requirements, and programs have different procedures for determining the institutional affiliations of their candidates. By themselves, passing rates on licensure tests do not provide