Crisis in the classroom: New Indiana teachers repeatedly failing state exams

Bob Segall, via a kind reader:

In the past three years, thousands of new, would-be Indiana teachers have failed the state’s CORE content area assessment exams. The tests, which are each designed to evaluate teacher knowledge in a very specific subject area, are a prerequisite for new teachers to obtain their Indiana state teaching license.

The CORE teacher assessment tests are administered by Pearson Education, one of the nation’s largest standardized testing companies. In 2014, the Pearson tests replaced what was referred to as the Praxis II teacher exams, which had long been used to assess teachers’ content mastery. The Praxis II tests have a high passage rate for Indiana teachers. That is not the case for many of the Pearson exams, which have pass rates that are horrible.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, only 36% of prospective English teachers passed the CORE middle school English language arts exam.

A dismal 32% of would-be Indiana math teachers passed the CORE middle school math test.

And only 18% of aspiring science teachers passed the CORE middle school science exam.

Other CORE exams – including history, social studies, reading, economics and geography – all show first-time pass rates of less than 50%, according to state testing data obtained by WTHR.

Related: MTEL and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s attempts to weaken teacher licensing requirements.

Related: When A stands for average

  • Dan_Dempsey

    This is hardly an Indiana problem. In highly regarded Massachusetts about 50% on average of prospective elementary, early childhood, and special education teachers fail the elementary math test (40 items).

    So what math content are prospective teachers learning in high school and college?
    These test failures are perhaps an indication of a poor k-12 system that just passes folks though the pipe.
    Colleges must not be interested in teaching math content to these prospective teachers either.

  • lawrencewinkler

    I would certainly want to see what questions are being asked of these prospective teachers. The article addresses that question, however. As reported, there are professors who took and were unable to deal with the questions.

    The Pearson test seems designed to create a low pass rate. It’s a ruse.

    • Dan_Dempsey

      I took the 035 Mathematics content test for HS Math teachers. I did not finish but easily passed with a 275 (cut score is 220).
      The Math professor in the video said she did not finish. It was never revealed if she passed or not.

      If you wish to see the questions, the NES preparation book for 035 Mathematics has questions that are very representative of those on the test. — There were few if any questions that a math professor would be “unable to deal with”.

      This 035 math test requires the test taker to know a lot of mathematics but it is not an unreasonable amount for those wishing to teach high school mathematics. I know nothing about the math test the elementary teachers are struggling with.

      I have never been a Pearson fan but the 035 Math content test is not a ruse.