General Teacher Preparation Policy
The state should require teacher preparation programs to admit only candidates with strong academic records and support programs to encourage greater numbers of qualified individuals of color to become teachers. This goal was ungraded in 2020.
GPA/Testing Requirement: Missouri does not require a minimum GPA for admission to teacher preparation programs. Missouri has increased the GPA needed for certification at program exit, rather than entrance: Cumulative GPA increased from 2.5 to 2.75; content GPA from 2.5 to 3.0; and professional education GPA from 2.5 to 3.0.
Missouri requires approved undergraduate teacher preparation programs to accept only teacher candidates who have passed a content test, the Missouri General Education Assessment. This test not only measures candidates' academic proficiency but content knowledge as well. The test contains separately scored subsections in English/language arts, writing, and mathematics. Science and social studies are combined into one subsection. Missouri also offers applicants the option of passing the ACT as a criteria for admission.
Although Missouri's requirement of a content test for admission is highly commendable and unique among the states, it is normed primarily to the prospective teacher population, and there is no evidence that cut scores have been established to limit admission to candidates in the top half of the college-bound population. Additionally, candidates have two years after the first attempt "to obtain a satisfactory rating in all of the subtests of the general knowledge and skills assessment (English, language arts including writing, mathematics, science, and social studies), after which time they must begin anew the requirement for obtaining a satisfactory rating in all subtests."
Diversity Programs: Missouri offers one program designed to increase the diversity of its teacher candidates. The state's Minority Teaching Scholarship, which provides teacher candidates from diverse backgrounds up to $3,000 per year in grants if they teach for five years after graduation in Missouri public schools, was not funded for the 2017-2018 school year, and future funding remains unclear.
Missouri Educator Gateway Assessments http://dese.mo.gov/educator-quality/missouri-general-education-assessment-mogea 5 CSR 20-400.310 Minority Teaching Scholarship http://dhe.mo.gov/ppc/grants/minorityteaching.php The Missouri Standards for the Preparation of Educators (MoSPE). https://dese.mo.gov/sites/default/files/MoSPEStandards.pdf
Require preparation programs to use a common test normed to the general college-bound population.
Missouri's content test is an important step in the right direction to ensure that candidates are academically competitive with all peers, regardless of their intended profession. However, the state should require a common test normed to the general college population to allow for the selection of applicants in the top half of their class, as well as facilitate program comparison. Further the state should require passage of all subtests prior to admission rather than allowing candidates up to two years to pass each section.
Require teacher preparation programs to screen candidates for academic proficiency prior to admission using a rigorous minimum GPA.
Rather than ensuring that all candidates pass a test normed to the general college-going population, Missouri could also screen candidates for academic proficiency by requiring a 3.0 individual GPA or a 3.2 cohort GPA at the time of admission, rather than focusing its efforts on raising GPA minimums at the time of program exit and certification. Using GPA at the point of admission rather than at the time of certification ensures that teacher preparation programs invest resources only in those individuals who are likely to successfully complete the program, pass licensing tests, and ultimately succeed in the classroom.
Fund programs that encourage greater numbers of qualified individuals of color to enter and successfully complete teacher preparation programs.
Missouri should ensure that the state's Minority Teaching Scholarship receives the fund it needs to be operational. Not funding a diversity program, no matter how well it is designed, is functionally equivalent to not having such a program at all.
Missouri was helpful in providing NCTQ with facts that enhanced this analysis.
Evidence is strong that countries whose students consistently outperform U.S. students set a much higher bar for entry to teacher preparation programs than what is typically found in the United States. Far from the top third or even top tenth to which more selective countries limit candidates, most states do not even aim for the top 50 percent. Previous analysis has shown that many states do not require that preparation programs evaluate candidates' academic proficiency as a condition of admission to teacher preparation at all; most others set a low bar by requiring basic skills tests that generally assess middle school-level skills or by requiring a minimum GPA, but too few demand at least a 3.0.
In addition to the low skill level tested by current basic skills tests (e.g., the Praxis Core), another concern is that they are normed only to the prospective teacher population, which does not allow for comparability between prospective teachers and the entire college-bound population. Tests normed to the general college-bound population would shine a clearer light on the academic proficiency of those admitted to teacher preparation programs and allow programs to be truly selective.
While a positive start, CAEP standards are no substitute for states' own policies. CAEP's standards require that the group average performance on nationally normed ability assessments such as ACT, SAT, or GRE be in the top 50th percentile. However, CAEP allows programs the unnecessary freedom to determine whether the minimum criteria will be measured prior to admissions or at some point during the program. Clear state admission policies would send an unequivocal message to programs about the state's expectations for high admissions standards.
Research is clear about the positive effects of teachers with stronger academic backgrounds on student achievement. Higher teacher selectivity, as measured by factors such as SAT/ACT scores, GPA prior to program admission, and an institute of higher education's (IHE) general competitiveness or selectivity, has a significant, positive correlation with student achievement. Some studies support higher academic admissions standards for entry into TPPs, including studies showing a relationship between student achievement and teachers' verbal ability or selectivity of the teachers' college. Although research supports applying greater selectivity when admitting teacher candidates, some recent work has found no correlation between teachers' scores on tests normed to the general college-bound population (e.g., SAT, ACT) or IHE selectivity and student achievement.
States should support increased diversity in the teacher pipeline, in addition to maintaining high admissions standards for teacher preparation programs. Recent data show that 49 percent of students in the US were students of color, while only 17 percent of teachers were teachers of color. Twenty-eight states had gaps between the percentage of students and educators of color that were greater than 25 percentage points. A growing body of research suggests that students of color—students who often face the largest achievement gaps—benefit from having same-race teachers. Exposure to same-race teachers positively benefits student achievement, teachers' expectations and perceptions of students, teachers' assessments and perceptions of student behavior, students' rates of suspension and expulsion, students' assignment to Gifted and Talented programs, and students' perceptions of teachers. Some research suggests that teachers of the same race as their students are more likely to reduce high-school dropout rates as well as increase student attendance and college attendance intent, and improve discipline. Moreover, white students report that they favor teachers of color.