Virginia Teacher Licensure Examination Policy: Intended and Unintended Effects on Teacher Availability and Minority Representation
Grimes-Crump, Ruth H.
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VIRGINIA TEACHER LICENSURE EXAMINATION POLICY: INTENDED AND UNINTENDED EFFECTS ON TEACHER AVAILABILITY AND MINORITY REPRESENTATION Ruth H.Grimes-Crump (ABSTRACT) A major component of the screening process for prospective teachers is the licensure examination. The examination serves two important functions: (a) sorting and screening candidates and (b) defining the knowledge base for professional practice. The first function receives the most attention from policymakers and serves the symbolic purpose of creating selectivity for entry into the profession. Initial entry typically is controlled by raising or lowering examination passing requirements which simply allows more or fewer persons to pass (Darling-Hammond, Wise & Klein, 1995). The second function presumes that a single instrument exists that not only contains the essential knowledge required for professional practice, but accurately identifies those most qualified to teach. The Virginia Board of Education (VBOE), like several other state boards of education, has authorized validation and standard-setting studies related to its teacher licensure examination policy, and the most recent studies have occurred in the past 20 years. The first study was authorized in April 1981 for the potential use of the National Teachers Examination (NTE). Following completion of validation studies for the Specialty Area Tests and the Core Battery Tests, the NTE was adopted as Virginia's licensure examination which was made effective on July 1, 1986. Ten years later (effective July 1, 1996), the VBOE agreed that prospective teachers would be required to take Praxis I Academic Skills Assessments. Praxis I would replace the NTE Core Battery, however, and the original NTE Specialty Area Tests would be retained. The decision to change teacher licensing examinations was precipitated primarily by the announcement by Educational Testing Service (ETS) that it would introduce new tests and eventually discontinue the NTE Core Battery. The passing requirements for Praxis I (as established in 1995) exceeded those of all states administering the test and were as follows: reading and mathematics - 178, and writing - 176. Review of test data obtained after the effective date of this policy revealed that the passing percentage for all test takers in 1995-96 was reading 72; mathematics 62; and writing 58. For minorities, the passing percentages were 34, 18, and 18, respectively. When these results were compared to test taker performance one year later (1996-97), there were modest percentage increases for all test takers: reading - 74; mathematics - 66; and writing - 63. For minorities, passing percentages were 36, 35 and 28, respectively. Despite these increases, 26 percent of all test takers failed the reading test; 34 percent failed the mathematics test; and 37 percent failed the writing test. The long-range effects of the Praxis I passing requirements on test takers are unknown; however, one of the near-term effects likely will be a reduction in the passing rate for a significant number of persons, particularly racial minorities. This study examined current Virginia teacher licensure policy, its intent, and near-term effects of examination results on teacher availability and minority representation.
- Doctoral Dissertations 
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