General Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should use a licensing test to verify that all new teachers meet its professional standards. This goal was not graded in 2017.
Pedagogy Test Requirement:
Alabama requires all new teachers to pass the applicable grade level pedagogy test from the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching
series in order to attain licensure.
Beginning Fall 2018, the state will require candidates to pass the edTPA.
Verify that commercially available tests of pedagogy actually align with state standards.
Alabama should ensure that its selected test of professional knowledge measures the knowledge and skills the state expects new teachers to have.
Ensure that performance assessments provide a meaningful measure of new teachers' knowledge and skills.
While Alabama is commended for requiring a performance-based assessment, the state should carefully monitor and collect data about the validity of this assessment. Additional research is needed to determine how performance assessments compare with other teacher tests, as well as whether the test score is predictive of teacher effectiveness.
Alabama responded with a helpful question that resulted in our clarification of this goal.
A good pedagogy test puts teeth in states' professional standards. In order to ensure that the state is licensing only teachers who meet its expectations, all content and pedagogy standards must be testable. State standards that cannot be assessed in a practical and cost-effective manner have no value. Examples of knowledge that can be tested include the basic elements of good instruction, effective means of communicating with children, efficient use of class time, effective questioning techniques, smooth classroom routines, the importance of feedback, means of engaging parents, the best methods for teaching reading as well as other subjects, appropriate use of technology, knowledge of testing and assessments, and the fundamentals of addressing individual learning challenges.
States should not use tests meant to measure new teachers' professional knowledge that utterly fail to do so, either because the passing score is set so low that anyone—even those who have not had professional preparation—can pass or because one can discern the "right" answer on an item simply by the way it is written.
Performance assessments are an important step in the right direction. Increasing numbers of states are adopting performance assessments to evaluate teacher candidates' pedagogy before an initial license is granted. A performance assessment can be of much more value than a traditional multiple choice test. However, states need to make sure that such tests are technically sound, especially given the significant resources that it takes to administer and score performance assessments. The past track record on similar assessments is mixed at best. The two states that required the Praxis III performance-based assessment reported pass rates of about 99 percent. A test that nearly every aspiring teacher passes is of questionable value. Additional research is needed to determine how the next generation of performance assessments, including the edTPA, compares to other teacher tests as well as whether the test's scores are predictive of student achievement.