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University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and the Impact of Teacher Ed Entrance Assessment Requirements

AACTE’s Consortium for Research-Based and Equitable Assessments (CREA) project recently released a framing paper titled The History, Current Use, and Impact of Entrance and Licensure Examinations Cut Scores on the Teacher-of-Color Pipeline: A Structural Racism Analysis. The paper addressed the following questions: (1) How are standardized entrance and licensure tests being used as a gateway into the profession? (2) Who determines cut scores for these tests?, and (3) What is the historical significance and implications of these tests on the diversity of the profession today?

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UWW) represents one of fourteen lead institutions that comprise the CREA project. Lana Collet-Klingenberg, professor and interim associate dean at UWW recently reflected on the effects of entrance assessment requirements at her institution and her institution’s plans to ensure equitable access for all students who choose to pursue teacher education.

Why did University of Wisconsin – Whitewater pursue membership in the CREA project?

Increasing the diversity in our educator workforce is a high priority for our state and our institution. By many measures Wisconsin is failing when it comes to equity in our schools and in our educator workforce. As the EPP that prepares the most first-time licensed teachers in the state, we are interested in any initiative that advances the cause. In addition, in an effort to lessen the number of barriers for prospective teachers, our state changed rule, providing EPP with flexibility regarding what measures we use for admission. In our state, students can meet requirements with GPA OR test scores. Our state is continuing to address removal of barriers by recently changing rule again to allow for alternate measures to GPA for licensure (which, in turn, will allow greater flexibility with admission requirements). I believe our inclusion in the project is a means of sharing these avenues with states still requiring standardized test performance as the primary admission pathway.

How has entrance and/or retention requirements into your teacher preparation program impacted student enrollment?

While I don’t have data at hand to offer specific numbers or statistics, I can share that in my time in higher education and teacher preparation I have personally witnessed a number of students from diverse backgrounds attempt to enter teacher preparation programs only to be told they couldn’t be admitted as they didn’t have high enough test scores. In recent years, we have seen an increasing number of post-baccalaureate students turned away as they didn’t have test scores or GPA. I’ve also seen too many students finish our programs successfully but graduate non-licensure due to not being able to pass the Foundations of Reading Test.

What institutional supports does UWW offer to assist candidates with passing assessments required for program entry and/or retention?

When Praxis/CORE was a firm requirement, we often provided students with study guides free of charge, as well as shared information with them on where they could purchase materials or take study classes. From time to time, our campus would offer study workshops to support students. When edTPA was a state requirement our college invested in an edTPA coordinator who worked with faculty, staff and students on all things edTPA. This greatly improved our students’ pass rates.

How do you plan to use the knowledge and resources gained from the project to further your efforts to promote recruitment, retention, and preparation of more diverse teacher candidates?

I am especially appreciative of the time and space that the CREA project affords to have in-depth conversations with colleagues across the country about these very important issues. It is a great way to learn what others are doing and share ideas for improvement in the work we do in preparing future teachers. As I have an institutional team that includes our college advising center coordinator, director of field experiences, a student service program manager, and a faculty member we will be able to easily generalize what we are learning to our comprehensive work in the college. Our goal is to make our admission and graduation process as seamless and straight forward as possible and put into place admission and exit requirements that reflect who our teacher candidates are and what they can do, rather than unnecessary and sometimes costly barriers.

To learn more about the CREA project, contact Weade James, director of development and research, at wjames@aacte.org.


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