Assessing Professional Knowledge : Hawaii

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


The state should use a licensing test to verify that all new teachers meet its professional standards.

Does not meet
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Assessing Professional Knowledge : Hawaii results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Hawaii's policies

As of August 1, 2011, Hawaii no longer requires new teachers to pass a pedagogy test in order to attain licensure.


Recommendations for Hawaii

Require that all new teachers pass a pedagogy test.
Hawaii should require that all new teachers meet professional standards through a test of professional knowledge.

State response to our analysis

Hawaii was helpful in providing NCTQ with the facts necessary for this analysis. The state added that it believes that its approved teacher preparation programs assess a teacher candidate's professional knowledge and proficiency in the teaching standards by observation and evaluation rather than in a multiple choice, paper-and-pencil pedagogy examination. For this reason, Hawaii discontinued use of the Praxis PLT on August 1, 2011.

Last word

NCTQ is not suggesting that the only way to measure pedagogical skill is through a multiple choice, paper-and-pencil assessment. Indeed, many states are moving toward performance-based assessments. The key point is that Hawaii is now operating under a "belief" that programs are assessing such knowledge and skills, rather than evidence that teacher candidates are prepared for the classroom.  

How we graded

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 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, how to communicate effectively with children, how to use class time efficiently, effective questioning techniques, establishing smooth classroom routines, the importance of feedback, engaging parents, the best methods for teaching reading as well as other subjects, appropriate use of technology, knowledge of testing and the fundamentals of addressing individual learning challenges.

States use too many tests 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.

Research rationale

For evidence of the importance of pedagogy tests in improving student achievement, see C. Clotfelter, H.Ladd and J.Vigdor, "How and Why Do Teacher Credentials Matter for Student Achievement?"  Working Paper 2, Calder Institute (2007).

For further information regarding the use of performance assessments and the Teacher Performance Assessment Consortium (TPAC) in California and other states see L. Darling-Hammond, "Evaluating Teacher Effectiveness: How Teacher Performance Assessments Can Measure and Improve Teaching" Center for American Progress (2010). 

For a perspectives on the issues with teaching dispositions, see W. Damon, "Personality Test: The dispositional dispute in teacher preparation today and what to do about it" in Arresting Insights in Education Vol.2 No. 3 (2005);  J. Gershman, "'Disposition' Emerges as Issue at Brooklyn College," New York Sun, May 2005.

For evidence on the low passing scores required by states on pedagogy tests, see the U.S. Department of Education's Secretary's Seventh Annual Report on Teacher Quality (2010). Also see K. Walsh "A Candidate-Centered Model for Teacher Preparation and Licensure" in A Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom (Hess, Rotherham and Walsh, eds.) (2004)