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New York Poised to Revamp Certification Exams

CORRECTED

New York's Board of Regents seems likely to lower the score required for new teachers on the controversial national exam called the Teacher Performance Assessment, or edTPA, which utilizes portfolios and videotaped lessons to assess the teaching skills of prospective educators.

New York, which was one of the earliest and strongest adopters of the test developed by the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity, has seen its licensure pass rates plummet since instituting the new exam, reports the education news website Chalkbeat New York.  

Responding to a 23 percent failure rate, a task force has recommended that the state "recalibrate" what constitutes a passing score on the exam. The recommendation won swift approval from the state's teachers' union.

"The task force recommendations strike the right balance," said Catalina Fortino, vice president of New York State United Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. "If the Regents adopt them—and we urge them to do that—the new requirements will help to ensure that aspiring teachers know their subject area and how to teach it, which is essential to be successful in our profession."

In addition to lowering passing scores on edTPA, the change would allow university faculty to recommend a teacher for initial certification if the candidate narrowly fails the edTPA.

Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa said that the students poised to benefit most from the change are high-quality applicants facing an unfair testing regime, reports Chalkbeat.

[CORRECTION (Jan. 31): The original version of this post erroneously cited racial differences in the pass rates for the Academic Literacy Skills Test, not edTPA. The edTPA, in fact has much smaller race-based gaps.]

"These are students who have gotten very high scores ... Their GREs [a graduate school entrance test] were through the roof," Rosa said. "These were exceptional students and many of them students of color"


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