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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
er preparation program at a regionally or nationally accredited institution or complete a successful portfolio verifying competence of the Professional Teaching Standards Board (PTSB) standards. A teacher candidate must also complete either a course or test on the U.S. Constitution and the Wyoming Constitution. There are no state-specified testing requirements.
The state has established program approval standards for teacher education programs. The PTSB oversees program approval in the state. It also delineates teaching standards that must be included in an approved teacher education program pertaining to both coursework and field practice. Currently, there are only three higher-education institutions (four-year colleges/universities) with state-approved programs, with only one program—the University of Wyoming—residing in the state. The other two institutions with approved and accredited teacher education programs are in neighboring states—Black Hills State University in South Dakota and Regis University in Colorado.
All teacher candidates trained in the state matriculate through the University of Wyoming at some point in their teacher preparation program. Students can either attend the University of Wyoming for their entire degree or start the teacher preparation program at one of the state’s seven community colleges, graduate with an associates degree in elementary or secondary education, and then attend the University of Wyoming at Laramie, the Casper College Center, Powell College Center, or one of five professional development schools to complete their degree.
Teacher Preparation Program
The University of Wyoming’s teacher education program has four levels. Students in the first level take an introductory course on teaching and spend supervised time in a school setting working with a mentor teacher while fulfilling general education requirements. The first level of the program (called “Becoming a Teacher”) can be fulfilled at either a community college or the university. At the end of the sophomore or second year after completing the two introductory education courses and obtaining a first aid certificate, all students in the state must apply for admittance into the university’s teacher education program.
To be admitted into the program a student must have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA in the first two years of school. Though the state does not have testing requirements for teacher licensure, the University of Wyoming requires teacher education students to have an ACT-composite score of 21 (if the composite score is 18 to 20, a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA is required). Similarly, though neither Wyoming nor South Dakota requires testing for initial licensure, Black Hills State requires students to have successfully completed Praxis I (formerly the Pre-Professional Skills Test) with set passing scores in all three areas (mathematics, writing, and reading) for admittance into the teacher education program.