Assessing Professional Knowledge : Utah

Delivering Well Prepared Teachers Policy


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

Meets goal in part
Suggested Citation:
National Council on Teacher Quality. (2011). Assessing Professional Knowledge : Utah results. State Teacher Policy Database. [Data set].
Retrieved from:

Analysis of Utah's policies

Utah requires all teachers advancing from a Level One license to a Level Two license to pass a popular pedagogy test from the Praxis series in order to attain licensure. Elementary alternate route teachers and some secondary alternate route teachers are also required to pass pedagogy tests.


Recommendations for Utah

Require that all new teachers pass a pedagogy test.
Utah should verify that all new teachers meet professional standards through a test of professional standards.

Verify that commercially available tests of pedagogy actually align with state standards.
Utah should ensure that its selected test of professional knowledge measures the knowledge and skills the state expects new teachers to have.

State response to our analysis

Utah recognized the factual accuracy of this analysis. The state added that an individual may not teach on a Level 1 license for more than three years and must upgrade to a Level 2 at that point. Therefore, teachers who cannot pass the PLT test are either remediated to pass the test or counseled out of the profession.  

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)