Passing Rate Declines by 20% as State Uses New Certification Exams for Teachers
New York State saw a significant drop in the number of candidates who passed teacher certification tests last year as tougher exams were introduced, state officials said on Wednesday, portraying the results as a long-needed move to raise the level of teaching and the performance of teacher preparation schools.
In the 2013-14 school year, 11,843 teachers earned their certification in New York, a drop of about 20 percent from the previous two years.
Candidates without certification cannot teach in public schools, and education schools with high failure rates may eventually lose their accreditation.
The fall in certifications resembles, in some respects, the state's experience with the Common Core, a set of more rigorous learning standards for students that has been adopted by New York and most other states. New tests aligned with the Common Core have led to large drops in scores and criticism from parents, teachers and some governors.
State officials and some education advocates say the new standards will help bring the supply of teachers more in line with demand.
"New York is producing too many teachers, and for me that is the biggest takeaway," said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. "If we really want to solve much of what ails the teaching profession, we need to be more selective."
Under the old system, teaching candidates in New York took three tests that covered issues like educational theory as well as specific content areas. Almost everybody passed.
Candidates now have to pass four exams. The most radically different test, called the Teacher Performance Assessment, or edTPA, requires a portfolio of work including a video recording of the candidate teaching, which is graded by faculty members at teacher preparation programs and teachers from across the country. On the edTPA tests taken last year, the passing rate was 81 percent.