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AACTE Receives Grant to Reduce Barriers to a Diversified Teaching Workforce

AACTE has launched a new initiative to examine state-level teacher certification assessment scores, with the goal to improve equitable and inclusive practices for promoting a diverse educator workforce. The initiative, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will enable AACTE to develop national guidelines and recommendations for state education leaders in establishing criteria for equitable evaluations for teacher candidates seeking state licensure.

“Left uninterrogated, standardized tests of any sort tend to spur inequalities, rather than resolve them,” said Leslie T. Fenwick, AACTE dean in residence. “If entrance exams are decimating the ranks of prospective pre-service teachers of color, we have a moral and practical obligation to correct the outsized impact of these tests on the future of our profession.”

AACTE will develop the Consortium for Research-Based and Equitable Assessments, which will engage 15 states in a study of their state-level tests and qualifying scores for entry into educator preparation programs (EPPs), such as the Praxis I. A 2011 report by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the National Education Association (NEA) revealed that minority teacher candidates performed lower on the Praxis I than their White peers across all three subject areas, with the widest racial disparity between African American and White test-takers, even when they had a similar undergraduate grade point average. As such, the Consortium will investigate the decision-making process for establishing cut scores, the evaluation criteria, and barriers that discourage future teachers of color to achieve assessment success, namely examination costs, bias, and unreliable measurements. AACTE will provide model policies for states to promote a variety of approaches for teacher candidates to demonstrate competencies for licensure.

“AACTE is committed to the important work of diversifying the teaching profession, as it is critical that all learners are taught by educators of color and for students of color to experience educators who reflect their ethnicity and cultural backgrounds. Increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in education is a strategic priority, and we are proud to partner with the Gates Foundation in this new initiative,” said Lynn M. Gangone, AACTE president and CEO. “The grant elevates the significant need to reassess licensure exams for future teachers across the nation, beginning with the 15 participating states.”

AACTE member institutions will lead the research study in conjunction with their state departments of education. Participants will be chosen through a selective application process. To learn more about the new AACTE initiative, visit www.aacte.org.

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