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New York Again Delays Teacher-Testing Requirements

Merryl-Tisch-600.jpg

For the third time, New York State's Board of Regents has agreed to delay the date by which all candidates have to pass a series of recently instituted certification exams.

Under the initial policies, put in place between 2010 and 2012, aspiring teachers have to pass updated content tests, plus three new exams: the performance-based edTPA and two others measuring literacy skills and ability to work with special populations.

Initial scores on the tests, widely considered to be harder than their predecessors, were significantly lower than under the previous requirements. 

The regents had already twice delayed the requirement to pass the edTPA, each time extending it by about a year. Under the policy approved May 18, teachers could get an additional year—through June 2016—to pass the edTPA. They would also get flexibility on the other tests, either by having their college attest that they have the required skills, or by passing an earlier version of the exam.

Education colleges have pushed back hard on the new exams, as have faculty unions. The regents' decision suggests those arguments are making inroads, even as supporters of the edTPA try to prevent angst about that exam from spilling over to other states that are considering it.

Capital New York's Jessica Bakeman explains that the chancellor of the regents, Merryl Tisch, is using the low passing rates to suggest that education colleges need to better prepare candidates to take them. Not coincidentally, one of the items included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's heavily contested budget deal was that colleges of education in which fewer than 50 percent of graduates passed the tests could be closed.

The idea of closing poor preparation programs sounds great in theory, but history suggests it's incredibly difficult to do politically—particularly in New York. As I reported earlier this year, a state panel at one point recommended denying accreditation to eight education colleges—but none of them ever closed, after the regents and other state officials intervened. 

Photo: Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. —Mike Groll/AP-File

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