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Perspective | Remove testing as a barrier to pre-service teachers

The North Carolina Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, (NCACTE), and its public and private and independent member institutions, supports the removal of Praxis Core, or an equivalent assessment, as a requirement for entry to traditional educator preparation programs. NCACTE’s member institutions are dedicated to recruiting and preparing the best teachers for North Carolina’s schools; our Strategic Priorities demonstrate this commitment. Maintaining the Praxis Core requirement does not align with current best practice or research in teacher education.

North Carolina’s educator preparation programs are replete with examples of amazing future teachers who must overcome barriers to reach their first classrooms. Consider the story of Emily Francis, highlighted in EdNC, who shared her immigrant journey to becoming a master teacher. Along that journey to being named 2016 Cabarrus County Schools Teacher of the Year, Francis had to contend with many challenges, perhaps none more confounding than passing the legislatively mandated entry exam, Praxis Core.

“I took it six times, and I failed the test again and again and again,” she said. “Without this test, I couldn’t be admitted to the department of education to be the teacher I wanted to be.”

Francis’s story is like so many others in North Carolina, who despite being admitted to a university must then pass a second hurdle on the path to becoming a teacher. The cost burden on teacher candidates can be reason enough to seek a different path, like Francis did. With Praxis Core as a barrier, Francis decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in Spanish before earning her license through a non-traditional pathway, leading to a Masters of Art in Teaching at UNC Charlotte. In the end Praxis Core was a costly, unnecessary delay on her journey to becoming an outstanding teacher.

As the leading advocacy association for teacher education in North Carolina, NCACTE knows the research and the teacher candidates who are eager to enter North Carolina classrooms. Consider the following:

  • Requiring a basic skills assessment for admission to EPPs is not universal.

    As of 2021, 60% of states did not require Praxis Core or any other basic skills exam to enter a teacher education program. Eliminating Praxis Core and other testing equivalencies removes this barrier.
  • Praxis Core serves as a barrier to admission and hinders efforts to diversify the teacher pipeline.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina suspended the requirement of Praxis Core for admission to EPPs for the 2020-21 academic year. Statewide enrollment in EPPs increased 34.3% from the previous year. Enrollment increased specifically for minoritized teacher candidates during this time, with Black and Hispanic candidate enrollment increasing 51.5% and 48.2%, respectively, from the previous year.
  • Data on the predictive value of Praxis Core is limited; more support exists for the predictive value of subject-specific licensure exams.

    Research suggests that licensure exams and performance assessments situated at the end of an educator preparation program are far better indicators of future learning outcomes. For example, the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) was found to be indicative of first-year value-added scores for elementary and middle school teachers in North Carolina.

NCACTE member institutions know the challenges teacher candidates face, and the challenges our P-12 partners face as they seek to hire teachers for their schools. We believe removing the entry requirements will open more doors to future teachers, and our programs’ rigor and summative assessments will ensure their readiness to teach. We need to smooth the path for future teachers like Emily Francis by removing unnecessary obstacles such as Praxis Core.

The North Carolina Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

The North Carolina Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is the organization that unites teacher educators in both public and private colleges and universities, staff and faculty in state created initiatives and consortia, and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. NCACTE is the lead advocacy group for policy issues regarding teacher preparation in North Carolina. We invite you to become engaged in our advocacy initiatives and help us move forward.