Some students, universities question MO's new teacher certificat - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Some students, universities question MO's new teacher certification test

Missouri took the old Praxis II test and made it tougher. Missouri took the old Praxis II test and made it tougher.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Why are many future teachers not making the grade when it comes to their certification test? 

Many university students say they feel what they're learning isn't what they're being tested on. It's something Missouri universities also feel is a potentially unfair situation when it comes to the state's new test and the timeframe in which it was introduced to students in the midst of their college careers. 

"You are testing somebody over something they have never taken a class about; That is very unfair on any level," said Lauren Powers. 

Powers is currently student teaching and recently found out she didn't pass her first attempt at the biggest test she'll ever take, the new version of the state test, now called the Missouri Content Assessment for teaching certification.

Powers feels her GPA and references back up her skills. She shared her story on behalf of a number of students. Universities say this is a situation that is hitting hundreds of teaching candidates.  

Lauren Powers explains many students including herself were caught off guard.  

"Students are walking in and taking this test they did not get the opportunity to take classes on or learn about because that wasn't in our curriculum but it is part of the state's new test," said Powers. "This is going to put a lot of people, passionate and qualified to teach, in a bind between switching careers or taking more classes or re-taking the test. Every case is unique with aspiring candidates. I saw questions about classes like macro-economics that I've never had a class over. The list of classes I would have had to take to be prepared was not even comparable at this point in my career. This will have the greatest impact on my peers I believe that will graduate before 2017." 

Universities say the state took the old Praxis II test and made it tougher, something they support to an extent until it comes to the transition period. However, the problem according to students and professors is that they are caught in the transition and the content in some cases does in fact include semesters of work they haven't studied 

"Every single thing that we've been doing has been changed in the past year," said Dr. Diana Rogers-Adkinson. She is the dean and a professor of the College of Education for Southeast Missouri State University. 

She says they were given prior warning but she says that still wasn't enough time and feels a transition in steps would have been a better way. 

Meanwhile, she explains the practice test was unveiled in August with the test given in September. Students of many different walks of life and directions of their path to become educators are finding themselves in a variety of difficult situations, she said. 

"Students need time to prepare," Rogers-Adkinson said. "There are a lot of scared students in some cases it may set them back. Others won't qualify to student teach according to these state standards." 

Both students and professors say they need to do all they can to prepare for the change and they hope the public realizes the scores on paper may not reflect  potential in the classroom. 

"I am so passionate about teaching," said Powers. "It takes a special person and you have to be qualified to do a lot of things in the classroom that I've been doing as a student teacher and that my references reflect. We should not be judged on whether or not we follow our path and our desire to impact young lives and make a difference based on unfair test scores that don't reflect who we really are or what we're capable of doing in the classroom." 

"They're really trying to weather the storm," said Dr. Rogers-Adkinson. "That's a really good example of the future educator that we want." 

"We have really high-quality educators coming out of our program that are really worried about this transition of the new test," she said.  

Powers will retake the test and professors say they are all for the new rigorous standards, but they should have been gradually implemented. Some students could lose their chance at student teaching and a teaching career. 

A new curriculum will be launched in the fall at Southeast Missouri State University, according to the Dean. 

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, aspiring teachers had more than a year to take and pass the old Praxis II test before it was phased out. 

However, deans still argue that would've been in the middle of the program for many students, still leaving them unprepared and without proper time to get ready, 

"This is a test they typically plan to take at the end of the education," said Dr. Rogers-Adkinson. 

She says this will have the greatest impact on students going into the middle school field of teaching because those were where the greatest changes of the test were presented.

We contacted DESE and this was their response:

“The Department's ultimate goal is making sure there is an effective educator in every classroom for the benefit of Missouri students. Our students deserve certified teachers that are knowledgeable about the material they are teaching. That is why the rigor has been raised on the Missouri Content Assessments that replaced the Praxis. However, these assessments are based on the same state and national content standards as the Praxis exams.

Missouri educator preparation programs were notified 15 months in advance of the change in test, and they should have notified their students. We informed educator preparation programs in spring of 2013 that the new assessments would be changing in the fall of 2014.

The provisional certificate allows an individual to accept a position with a school district and teach for up to two years while completing the appropriate certification requirements, like passing a content assessment. As such, it is important to note, that a school district/LEA must wish to hire the individual in order for the individual to apply for this certificate.

We will be reviewing all the data on anyone who has taken that test since the fall of 2014, and the State Board of Education will make adjustments based on that information.”

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