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Testing Teacher Candidates: The Role of Licensure Tests in Improving Teacher Quality
validity evidence for initial licensing tests. However, conducting high-quality research of this kind is complex and costly. Examples of relevant research include investigations of the relationships between test results and other measures of candidate knowledge and skills or on the extent to which tests distinguish candidates who are at least minimally competent from those who are not.
The processes used to develop current tests, the empirical studies of test content, and common-sense analyses suggest the importance of at least some of what is measured by these initial licensure tests. Beginning teachers should know how to read, write, and do basic mathematics; they should know the content areas they teach.
Little research has been conducted on the extent to which scores on current teacher licensure tests relate to other measures of beginning teacher competence. Much of the research that has been conducted suffers from methodological problems that interfere with making strong conclusions about the results. This makes it hard to determine what effect licensure tests might have on improving the actual competence of beginning teachers.
States should strive to use the committee’s or similar evaluation criteria when developing and evaluating tests for use in initial teacher licensure systems.
When states are selecting from among existing tests for initial teacher licensure, they should obtain and carefully consider field test and any available operational data regarding reliability, validity, cost/feasibility, and fairness as part of their decision-making process. When states are developing licensing tests, they should collect and weigh this evidence in making decisions about the final form of the test and its use.
The degree of disparate impact should be an important consideration when states are deciding which licensure test to use for various decisions about candidate competence.
States and test developers should provide technical documentation to users, scholars, and the public about the reliability, validity, and disparate impact of their tests. Field test or any available operational data should be used to document the technical quality of tests.
The technical information used in deciding on a test normally should be made publicly available before tests are actually used to make decisions about individuals. If technical data are not provided by the end of the first administration year, states should not use information from these tests to make licensing decisions.
State agencies contracting for test development should specify the technical information they require. Because of the importance of these data