(Michigan Dept. of Education Press Release, Nov. 15, 2013)
Better prepared and effective teachers will be available for Michigan students with the advent of a more rigorous teacher certification exam this year.
“We want the best and brightest teachers in Michigan classrooms,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. “Increasing the expectations necessary to pass the certification exam gets us closer to that goal.”
To pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC), students now must demonstrate a more masterful knowledge of the reading, writing and math portions of the new Professional Readiness Examination (PRE), as well as their teaching specialties. The PRE replaces the old basic skills test that college students are required to pass before they can student teach.
The MTTC’s rigor level was raised after the Michigan Department of Education convened a standard-setting group of K-12 educator and representatives from Educator Preparation Institutions (EPIs) in the state. The group was asked to identify “the level of content knowledge needed to effectively perform the job of a qualified Michigan educator.”
The recommendations of that group resulted in more rigorous “cut scores” and, subsequently, a lower passing rate on many of the MTTC content areas for the October 2013 administration of the tests.
In accordance with state law, candidates who do not pass all three PRE subtests (reading, writing, and mathematics) are not allowed to enroll for student teaching. Some EPI programs still admit students into their programs even if they haven’t yet passed the PRE test – those are policies adopted by the individual institutions.
Those candidates who do not pass content tests, however, cannot be recommended for certification until they do have a passing score. Students who did not attain a passing score can retake the test during all future administrations and have the option of working with their EPI to obtain additional support.
The new cut scores are designed to better identify highly-prepared, qualified educators capable of teaching the content necessary for regular or advanced placement classes.
“Just like we’d want the best and most effective doctor,” Flanagan said. “The same applies to teaching Michigan’s students.”
Flanagan said Michigan is raising the bar on what state educators must know and understand regarding the content they teach, while holding students and EPIs more accountable.
“This is part of a long-term plan that is four years or so in the making,” he said. “Michigan schools need the best and brightest educators teaching our students. We want to ensure we have effective educators in our classrooms – not just teachers who have shown they are minimally acceptable as entry-level teachers.”
He added, “This is will help ensure that new educators are the best prepared to be effective educators when they get to the classroom.”
With the implementation of the new thresholds this fall, initial pass rates for PRE mathematics and writing fell from 90 percent and 92 percent in 2012-13 to 45 percent and 31 percent, respectively; while the overall PRE initial pass rate fell from 82 percent to 26 percent in that time.
State law mandates a testing program as part of Michigan’s teacher certification requirements. The test’s purpose is ensuring that each certified teacher has the necessary professional readiness and content knowledge to serve in Michigan schools.
The MTTC is a criterion-referenced assessment, meaning test takers are not measured or graded against other test takers, but against what they must know to be effective classroom educators.