DES MOINES — Prospective educators will have to score in the 25th percentile on a pair of national tests if they want to teach in an Iowa classroom under rules approved Wednesday by the Iowa State Board of Education.
The new rules, which take effect for students who will graduate in spring 2013, come about as part of the education reform package passed by the Legislature earlier this year.
“There are some minimum responsibilities that need to be had by the teacher, namely being that you have a fairly minimal level of achievement in both your pedagogy and also in the content area that you’re in,” said Mike Cormack, a legislative liaison with the department. “This one is a 25-percentile standard, nationally, so potentially, every Iowa teacher could pass it. It’s not being compared to other Iowa teachers.”
Board members, all of whom attended the meeting via telephone, had few questions about the exam, other than how many times a teacher can take it and who gets to choose the exam in question.
Cormack said the exam can be taken as many times as a teacher wants and the scores are not cumulative. He said the department intends to use the Praxis II series of exams, which he described as “the Coke or Pepsi of tests. They’re the most widely used.”
He added that rules are being developed for out-of-state teachers who already have a teaching certificate in their home state and want to teach in Iowa.
“This doesn’t affect anyone being able to graduate with an education degree,” Cormack said. “It’s just a requirement to obtain a teaching certificate to teach in this state.”
Currently, the state requires that only early elementary school teachers — those are grades kindergarten through 6 — must take an additional exam to obtain their certificate. Under the new rules, all teachers would have to take two exams.
“There’s a performance-based assessment that’s still in development,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass, who also joined the conference via telephone. “That should be ready by fall 2013.”
The board also unanimously approved two other items:
– One set up the structure for the $2 million Iowa Reading Research Center. The center is supposed to serve as clearing house for information about the best practices for reading instruction, which would be available to all school districts in the state. This, like the teacher tests, was part of the education reform package from earlier this year.
– The other set up rules for who can become a business administrator in school buildings. The idea of the administrator program is to have an official who can handle the financial and administrative tasks to allow building principals more time to work as instructional leaders in their buildings.