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ERIC Number: ED508952
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov-7
Pages: 39
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 18
Licensure Tests for Special Education Teachers: How Well They Assess Knowledge of Reading Instruction and Mathematics
Stotsky, Sandra
Education Working Paper Archive
The 1998 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act requires all states to report annually to the U.S. Department of Education the number of prospective teachers at each teacher training institution who pass their own state tests for licensure. However, the law left decisions on what tests to require in each field, what to assess on them, and their passing scores up to each state. To determine the content knowledge in reading and mathematics that subject tests for prospective special education teachers assess, this study drew on information available on the Web sites for Educational Testing Service, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, and National Evaluation Systems. It examined the extent to which these tests address three research-based components of reading pedagogy (instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary knowledge), the weights attached to knowledge of these three components, and the quality of the sample questions provided for them. It estimated the percentage of test items addressing mathematics content and these three components on each test. It also analyzed the descriptions of ETS's tests of "principles of teaching and learning" to see whether these tests assess understanding and use of educational theories that underlie effective research-based practices. The findings of this study suggest that one solution for ensuring that prospective special education teachers begin their teaching careers with a substantial amount of research-based knowledge of reading instruction is to require them to take a dedicated test of research-based reading instructional knowledge, as do California, Massachusetts, and Virginia, in addition to any other tests required for their license. To ensure an adequate amount of relevant mathematical knowledge, states might consider replicating the 40-item test of mathematics content that Massachusetts will require of all aspiring elementary and special education teachers in 2009. States will also need to design their own tests of basic principles of teaching to ensure that they assess knowledge of educational theories that underlie effective research-based practices. Profiles of Thirteen Tests for Elementary and Sometimes Other Teachers are appended. (Contains 1 figure, 2 tables and 5 footnotes.)
Education Working Paper Archive. Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas, 201 Graduate Education Building, Fayetteville, AR 72701. Tel: 479-575-3172; Fax: 479-575-3196; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: University of Arkansas, Education Working Paper Archive