National think tank analyzes teacher prep programs

Idaho sufficiently tests its prospective elementary teachers before granting them certification, but the state falls short on helping prospective teachers decide which teacher-prep programs are best at preparing them to pass their exams, according to a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

The National Council on Teacher Quality released a nationwide analysis of teacher preparation programs in all 50 states.

Here is how Idaho stacks up, according to the analysis.

Elementary testing standards

Idaho’s “Praxis Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects” test meets NCTQ’s quality standards because it requires the state’s prospective elementary teachers to pass separately scored subtests in the four major content areas: math, English language arts, science and social studies.

That’s important, the report notes, because without separately scored subtests “a candidate’s strong knowledge in one core content area may mask deficiencies in another.”

Here’s a broader look at the report’s findings on content tests:

  • Idaho is one of 22 states that require separately scored subtests in the four content areas.
  • Four states do not require candidates to pass content tests.
  • Nine states require candidates to pass a content test that does not contain separately scored subtests.
  • Thirteen states require candidates to pass a content test with at least two separately scored subtests.
  • NCTQ is still reviewing tests in three states.

Pass-rate reporting

Idaho is one of at least 42 states that do not make public pass rates on licensure tests for first-time test takers.

That’s a problem because it “severely limits aspiring teacher candidates’ and the public’s access to information about program variation and quality,” the report noted.

Eight states — Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin — publish first-time pass rate data of all test takers.

“The first-time pass rate serves as a meaningful measure of how well programs are preparing candidates to pass their licensing exams on their first try, which is particularly important given that it falls on candidates to pay testing fees for multiple attempts,” the report notes. “This issue is therefore one not only of teacher quality, but also of consumer protection.”

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