Study: State sets bar low for teacher qualificationsPIERRE — South Dakota often sets the bar low in determining whether teaching candidates have sufficient knowledge of the content they need in the classroom, according to a study presented Monday to the South Dakota Board of Education.
By: Bob Mercer, The Daily Republic
PIERRE — South Dakota often sets the bar low in determining whether teaching candidates have sufficient knowledge of the content they need in the classroom, according to a study presented Monday to the South Dakota Board of Education.
The analysis showed South Dakota has the lowest or secondlowest “cut” scores in about two dozen content areas and is somewhat higher in about 20 others. The cut score is the minimum necessary to pass and receive state certification to teach.
South Dakota uses the Praxis testing series developed by ETS, a national company. The study by the state Department of Education compared cut scores among the Praxis states. South Dakota typically was at or near the bottom for cut scores.
The report also looked at how many teacher candidates in other Praxis states would have passed using South Dakota’s cut scores. In many instances a higher percentage of South Dakota test-takers passed, suggesting that more South Dakota teaching candidates were better prepared.
What might happen next isn’t clear. DOE’s Steve Fiechtner said he will discuss the findings with college and university officials and consider whether adjustments are necessary.
The state board plans to receive recommendations in January.
South Dakota panels set the cut scores four years ago for the first time. State Education Secretary Melody Schopp said it’s appropriate to reconsider whether they are at appropriate levels.
“High pass rates look good, but is it what we expect from out students?” Fiechtner said. “It is very subjective.”
The state board made one change Monday, raising the Spanish cut score. It started at 160 and was reduced to 145 for the past year.
The board decided to increase it to 156 for the coming year and then go to 160 effective July 1, 2013.
Fiechtner said the “legally defensible range” is 156 to 180. His recommendation was to go back to 160 immediately, but board members after some discussion adopted the gradual approach.