Assessment News in Brief

States Set Varying Passing Bars on New Teacher Assessment

By Stephen Sawchuk — June 08, 2015 1 min read

As they implement policies around a new performance-based licensing test for teachers, states are setting the bar at different places—a phenomenon that raises questions about cross-state comparisons.

The edTPA, short for teacher-performance assessment, is a licensing exam that, among other things, requires candidates to submit a video of their teaching and analyze it. Some 12 states are in various stages of requiring the exam for teachers.

When states set cutoff scores for the test, they take into account factors like projected supply and demand, in addition to quality issues.

The top score for most middle and secondary teachers is 75 points, and the test’s creators have suggested putting the passing score no higher than 42. (The score setting is different for elementary and world-language teachers.) California set its score at 41, but programs can choose to use three other exams instead. Iowa’s score is also 41, but candidates can take alternative exams. For now, Illinois’ score is 35, but it is ramping up to 41 by 2019. New York requires a 41, though implementation has been twice delayed. In Tennessee, each program sets a passing score of at least a 37. And in Washington state, the score is 35.

Having different passing scores means that it won’t be as easy to compare candidates’ performance across institutions or states, which potentially raises wrinkles for licensure reciprocity and other policies.

Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Georgia, and Oregon haven’t yet set cutoff scores. Minnesota is using the exam as one component of assessing teacher-preparation programs, so its grading system is a bit different.

A version of this article appeared in the June 10, 2015 edition of Education Week as States Set Varying Passing Bars on New Teacher Assessment

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