New York Teachers-to-Be: 68% Pass Rate on Basic Literacy Test

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New data shows that a surprisingly high number of students in New York State teacher preparation programs are not passing the basic literacy tests they need to obtain certification in the state.

New certification requirements in the state from the Board of Regents asks students to pass the Academic Literacy Skills exam in order to be licensed.

The exam looks into whether or not future teachers are able to fully comprehend and utilize reading materials.  The exam also considers an applicant’s writing skills.  According to the results, many of those who take the exam are not ready to be in charge of a classroom, writes Carl Campanile for The New York Post.

Passing rates vary across the state, but overall the results are similar.  At CUNY’s College of Technology in Brooklyn, the passing rate was 41%.  Lehman College in The Bronx saw a passing rate of 47%, City College was 51%, Brooklyn College 54% and the College of Staten Island had a passing rate of 55%.  CUNY has promised to see better results moving forward.

“We are not satisfied with these results, and we are working closely with our college presidents, education deans and others to ensure we do all we can to produce the quality teachers the city requires and deserves,” said CUNY Chancellor James Milliken.

Passing rates were not any better at private institutions.  Mercy College’s Bronx campus had a passing rate of 28%, Concordia College in Bronxville came in at 30%, and The College of New Rochelle saw a passing rate of 34%.

The statewide passing rate was 68%.  Previously, under the old standards, the passing rate was 95%.

Of the 15,102 students who graduated with the class of 2012 from New York State teacher preparation programs as certified teachers, only 3,000 held teaching jobs that fall.  By the fall of 2013, only 1,289 had joined the workforce.

Those who did find jobs felt unprepared to be in charge of a classroom, writes Anne Michaud for Newsday.  According to education officials, almost 10% of first-year teachers will quit before the end of that first year.

In order to better prepare students for life as teachers, new, tougher standards were introduced last year in an effort to better align new teachers with the Common Core standards.

Would-be teachers must now pass four exams: Educating All Students, which demonstrates the ability to connect with students of all backgrounds; Academic Literacy Skills, measuring an understanding of texts; Education Teacher Performance Assessment, or edTPA, requiring video footage of the teaching candidate in front of a classroom; and a final exam covering various content areas.

According to State Education Commissioner John King, teacher preparation programs in the state need to work on improving their programs or shut down.

“It’s better to have fewer programs that better prepare teachers than having many schools that have teachers who are unprepared for the classroom,” King said.

Colleges who are performing poorly will need to create corrective-action plans, which may include more academic support for students, or a more rigorous admissions process.

Teacher-training colleges were given $1.5 million from the state in order to prepare for the new standards, which require students to pass each exam with a score of at least 80.  In addition to the new literacy exam, other new exams gauge actual teaching skills as well as content knowledge for their subject areas.