Alabama educators and officials recently recommended suspending requirements for teachers in the state to take the Praxis content knowledge test. A committee of local and state educators held a work session that formulated the plan to bring before Alabama’s Board of Education in Montgomery. Consisting of representatives from both higher education and K-12, the group has been in talks for several months to address issues facing education throughout Alabama. The recommendation comes with the hopes of gaining more K-12 teachers across Alabama.
A certification test for teachers, the Praxis exam is intended to pare down educators to ones who possess the prescribed knowledge for education. However, the Praxis exam is only one in a series of other tests potential teachers must pass to reach certification.
Perry County Superintendent, Marcia Smiley, is part of the push for the exemption of the Praxis exam. As a member of the committee that put forward the recommendation, Smiley indicated to the state Board of Education that shortages of educators have effected Perry County schools significantly. Currently, there are teachers in the Perry County system with emergency certification, with only a few points between them, the Praxis exam, and certification.
“We know there are individuals who aren’t great test-takers and will never be great test-takers,” Smiley told AL.com, adding, “but that doesn’t mean they can’t be, and aren’t, great teachers.”
Smiley indicated that some give up after a few failed passes at the Praxis, only to leave education permanently. Suspending requirements for passage of the Praxis exam, the committee believes, will alleviate shortages statewide for teachers. However, board members remain hesitant to enact such a shift, citing concerns over quality control.
The group also suggested continuing requirements for the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), a portfolio compiled during the internship phase for teachers that measures the performance and implementation of lessons of a prospective educator. Group members argue that the edTPA is a more accurate assessment of teaching skills.
“The edTPA gives them that pedagogy, rather than that one sitting and letting that one sitting and that one test be the determination as to whether they are a teacher or not,” Smiley was quoted by AL.com.
Additional recommendations included passing the Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching test in areas where the edTPA is otherwise unavailable. Teachers in the fields of early childhood education, elementary, and K-6, will be required to pass the Foundations of Reading assessment from Pearson, per the Literacy Act, which took effect on September 1. Suspension of the edTPA was also recommended, but keeping the Praxis knowledge test for those teachers seeking certification through alternate routes.
These recommendations come as the state department of education has been easing certification requirements to create a more accessible path to teaching. The board could potentially adopt the proposals next month, or at least start the process of enacting changes starting in June. This will allow teachers to prepare and adjust their programs as needed for the new changes.