OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska education leaders are already analyzing results from the first wave of Nebraska teacher candidates to take national content tests to get their teaching certificates.
The Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/2bUTibX ) reports that Nebraska was the second-to-last state in the country to adopt the tests, known collectively as Praxis II. More than 2,550 content tests were taken, fielding 40 endorsement areas such as chemistry to generalized endorsements such as elementary education.
Nebraska’s pass rate exceeded the national rate in 27 subjects. On the elementary education test, 726 tests were taken for a 94.4 percent pass rate. The national rate was 92 percent.
State candidates pass rates did dip below the national average in three subject areas: chemistry, speech language pathology and Spanish.
Sharon Katt, senior administrator for adult program services in the Nebraska Department of Education, says the pass rates will likely rise over time as candidates and teacher-preparation institutions become more familiar with the tests.
Those who don’t pass the content test can still get a temporary provisional teaching certificate from the state, Katt said. The certificate is good for two years, but it’s not renewable. If candidates pass their respective tests within the two years, they can obtain a regular teaching certificate. If not, they must stop teaching.
Officials at the University of Nebraska at Omaha said initial scores haven’t raised any red flags with them. They said the content tests can be useful in gauging the effectiveness of their teacher-prep program.
When gauging a teacher’s ability, however, content testing is just one measure, said Connie Schaffer, assessment coordinator for the college of education.
“I think we have other assessments that complete the picture,” Schaffer said. “We look at how are they performing in the field when they are in authentic, real classrooms. How do they respond to those unscripted scenarios that face a teacher every day?”
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com