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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
Department of Education, 2000a; National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, 2000b). For example, New York offers 24 subject exams, while Michigan administers over 70. NES has developed over 360 different subject matter tests, including tests in social studies, art, Russian, music, reading, and agriculture.
ETS recently announced that it will be collaborating with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education to revamp the Praxis II subject area Tests (National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, 1999). The goal of the revisions is to more closely align the content of Praxis tests with the teaching standards written by subject matter associations and to include more items on pedagogy.
Pedagogical knowledge tests examine prospective teachers’ knowledge of learning and development, educational psychology, classroom management, instructional design and delivery techniques, and evaluation and assessment. They cover such topics as organizing content knowledge for student learning, creating an environment for learning, teaching for student learning, and teacher professionalism. Twenty-eight states use tests to assess candidates’ subject-specific knowledge of teaching strategies (U.S. Department of Education, 2000a; National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, 2000b). Two states require teacher education programs to assess pedagogical knowledge. Twenty states use a component of Praxis II called the Principles of Learning and Teaching tests, which are designed for three grade levels: grades K-6, 5–9, and 7–12 (Educational Testing Service, 1999d).
The Professional Knowledge test of the ETS Core Battery tests examines candidates’ knowledge of four teaching functions: planning instruction, implementing instruction, evaluating instruction, and managing the learner and the learning environment. The Communication Skills test assesses candidates’ knowledge of aspects of the teacher education curriculum and their ability to listen, read, and write well.
NES has also developed pedagogical knowledge tests for several states, including Arizona, Colorado, New York, Texas, and Illinois (National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, 2000b). In New York, teachers must pass the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written, which measures candidates’ knowledge of the learner, instructional planning and assessment, instructional delivery, and the professional environment <www.highered.nysed>. The Examination for the Certification of Educators in Texas (ExCET) combines subject matter knowledge with the professional knowledge expected of entry-level teachers <www.excet.nesinc.com>.
Florida has designed its own test for assessing prospective teachers’ pedagogical knowledge <www.firn.edu/doe>. Candidates for initial certification take