Requiring less in order to gain more?
The state’s move to lower the standardized teaching test score in order to get more teachers in the classroom does not seem wise.
The test students must take in order to become licensed teachers in middle school or high school math previously required a score of 160 on a scale of 1-200. It will now be lowered in order to get more licensed teachers in the classroom. And it is being lowered retroactively, so any students who did not qualify for a license because of a test score may now be eligible.
Mississippi is now one of seven states that require less than a 160 on the Praxis II test in math. Prior to 2013 the state had one of the lowest requirements for test scores but raised it to increase academic standards. Several educators and business leaders pushed for the change, but some of them now support lowering it, The Associated Press reported.
There are likely intelligent, qualified students who could go on to make wonderful teachers, but simply did not score a 160 on the test. But is lowering the test score the best way to ensure there are enough teachers to meet the needs of our state? Mississippi has increased standards for students in K-12, so it stands to reason that more should be required of teachers.
What message does it send to K-12 students who are struggling with tougher standards? Should the state lower what it requires of them?
Perhaps the state should instead invest more in Praxis II test preparation, or work more closely with teaching programs at the state’s universities in an effort to boost test scores.
If a teacher shortage is the sole reason for the change in scoring, the state should instead work to make the teaching profession more attractive. Higher pay would be the first step toward that goal.
Lowering expectations of teaching candidates is not the way to build a better public school system in Mississippi.