Delaware Raising the Bar for Educators

June 21st, 2011

Category: Policy and Practice

House Bill 107, which is out of Committee but not on the House agenda, would require all educators to pass Praxis I or an equivalent test before being able to teach in a Delaware school. This requirement for earning an initial license will raise the standards for teaching professionals, which should yield benefits for students, as teachers are the most important in-school factor on student success. As Charlie Michels, Executive Director of the Professional Standards Board, has said, we are raising the bar for students, and we should do the same for teachers.

The bill requires educators from all routes (excluding those in vocational/industry areas) to either pass the Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test or receive an exemption based on a cut score on an approved exam, which includes the SAT, GRE, and Core Battery Communications Skills Test.  The cut scores for the SAT are 560 in reading and 540 in math – which is significantly above the Delaware average scores of 493 and 495 and national average scores of 501 and 516, respectively.  In Delaware, this would mean that only slightly over half of Delaware graduates enrolled at the University of Delaware would be exempt from taking the Praxis I.

This is a laudable first step towards increasing the status of the teaching profession and is in line with international best practice.  However, Delaware still has work to do if we want to lift student achievement up to the level of our international counterparts, which includes providing meaningful and rigorous evaluations tied to professional development in order to continuously improve educators’ practice, and holding teachers accountable for student achievement results. 

Concerns were raised in the Committee hearing about impacts on districts, because this may limit their hiring pool if they continue to operate the way they always have. However, some feel this bill may create the incentive for districts and alternative routes to hire earlier, which we all agree is needed.

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Brett Turner



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