In addition to differences in the use of tests, these case studies suggest some of the multiple criteria that states use to award initial licenses as well as the variations among states in their views of the knowledge and skills required for beginning teaching. Like six other states, Idaho and Wyoming have no testing requirements. Table 3–5 shows that candidates in Connecticut and Nebraska must pass a basic skills test to enter teacher education. In California, candidates take a basic skills test for diagnostic purposes before entering teacher education and must pass the same test before obtaining an initial license. In Alaska and Maryland, teacher candidates must pass a basic skills test before earning a license. Several of the states with basic skills test requirements use Praxis I. Alaska, Nebraska, Maryland, and Connecticut all do so, but they set different passing scores. There is a seven-point difference, for example, in the reading passing scores required in Nebraska and Maryland. Similarly, there is a difference in the math passing scores required by Alaska and Maryland, although both states require teacher candidates to pass Praxis I for initial licensure. California requires teacher candidates to pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test, developed by NES.
Teacher candidates in California, Connecticut, and Maryland also must pass relevant subject matter tests to earn an initial license. As illustrated in Table 3–5, elementary teacher candidates in California must pass the Multiple Subjects Assessment for Teachers, which includes content knowledge and content area exercises and measures knowledge in seven content areas. Connecticut and Maryland both use tests from the Praxis II series to test elementary teacher candidates, with Connecticut requiring candidates to pass Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and Elementary Education Content Area Exercises. Maryland also requires candidates to pass Elementary Education Content Area Exercises (with a different passing score than Connecticut) but uses a different test to assess content knowledge; Maryland uses the Elementary Education: Content Knowledge test.
Although Idaho and Wyoming have no testing requirements for initial teacher licensure, they have other requirements for earning a teaching license. Like the other five states, they require teacher candidates to have completed an approved teacher education program and to have met specific coursework requirements. Idaho asks teacher candidates to demonstrate computer competency before obtaining an initial license. Wyoming requires a course on the U.S. Constitution and on its state constitution. Alaska and California also require U.S. Constitution courses. Several states require teacher candidates to complete special education courses (Nebraska, Maryland, and Connecticut) or a multicultural course prior to earning an initial teacher license (Alaska). Some states also require candidates to fulfill residency requirements and to verify recent teaching experience. Most states require candidates to demonstrate good moral character and/or the absence of a criminal record.