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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

NY plans to drop literacy test for teachers

New York hopes to diversify the teaching force.

Teachers won’t have to pass a test of reading and writing skills to teach in New York, reports AP. The state Board of Regents is expected to to eliminate the Academic Literacy Skills Test because pass rates are lower for black and Hispanics: 46 percent of Hispanic test takers and 41 percent of black test takers pass on the first try, compared with 64 percent of white candidates.

The exam includes multiple-choice questions about reading selections and a writing section.

These sample questions don’t seem very hard. I could have answered many of the Gertrude Stein questions without reading the passage.

Ian Rosenblum, the executive director of the New York office of the Education Trust, a nonprofit that advocates for high achievement for all students, called the literacy test “a 12th grade-level assessment” — something a high school senior should be able to pass.

Pace University student Tabitha Colon, who failed the test last year,  compared it to the English portion of the SAT and said it was “pretty difficult.”

Colon, 21, was still able to pass thanks to a “safety net” provision that lets students demonstrate proficiency by submitting grades from a class. She is now working as a student teacher at a middle school in Ossining.

Critics say the test, which costs $131, duplicates the SAT and GRE.

“It’s a terrible idea to get rid of the test that tells us whether teaching candidates meet minimum literacy levels,” StudentsFirstNY executive director Jenny Sedlis told the New York Post. “Students in low-income neighborhoods need teachers who soar over the standards, not ones who failed to pass a basic competency test.”

Teachers, what do you think? Does the ability to pass an SAT-like exam predict teaching effectiveness?

The Regents also will consider certifying some applicants who fail a performance assessment test, reports the Post. Would-be teachers who “barely fail” the Teacher Performance Assessment, or edTPA, could be certified based on grades, recommendations and other factors.

“Only 77 percent of aspiring teachers have passed the edTPA since its rollout in New York, prompting a safety-net option that allowed candidates to take an easier, paper-based exam,” reports Chalkbeat.

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