Topic:
TEACHER CERTIFICATION; TEACHERS;
Location:
TEACHERS - CERTIFICATION AND EVALUATION;

OLR Research Report


January 14, 2003

 

2003-R-0022

PRAXIS I AND II TEACHER CERTIFICATION TESTS

By: Judith Lohman, Chief Analyst

You asked several questions about the Praxis I and II teacher certification tests. The individual questions and answers are listed below, along with other information about points raised in your letter.

For your further information, we also enclose a 2001 OLR report that explains Connecticut's teacher competency testing system and the test waivers and exemptions and provides information about teacher testing in other states (2001-R-0721).

SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

What are the pass rates for the math, reading and writing portions of the Praxis I exam?

The most recent data currently available from the State Department of Education is for the period from June 1994 through December 21, 2000. Initial and final pass rates for the Praxis I subtests are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Initial and Final Pass Rates for Praxis I Subtests

June 1994 – December 31, 2000

TEST

NUMBER

INITIAL PASS

FINAL PASS

INCREASE

Reading

16,198

14,390

88.8%

14,894

91.9%

504

3.50%

Writing

16,055

14,033

87.4

14,625

91.1

592

4.22

Math

16,110

12,245

77.1

13,615

84.5

1,190

9.58

Pass All Three

15,642

10,745

68.7

12,197

78.0

1,452

13.51

Source: State Department of Education, Analysis of Praxis Test Data, 1994-2000

Of those that fail to pass, how many times does the average applicant retake the test before passing it? Provide a breakdown for the math, reading, and writing portions of the test.

The State Department of Education reports that it has no data on the average number of times applicants who fail initial tests take the retests before passing.

Is the Education Testing Service (ETS) the only vendor for Praxis tests?

Yes. ETS created and owns the Praxis test series, which is used in 42 states, including Connecticut. But ETS is not the only vendor of teacher licensing exams. There is another major test vendor, National Evaluation Systems, Inc. (NES), headquartered in Amherst, Massachusetts. NES provides customized teacher licensing exams in 10 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas. NES's tests have different names depending on the state.

How much revenue does ETS derive from the Praxis tests?

ETS' Praxis-related revenues were $69.8 million in FY 2001 according to information it filed with the Internal Revenue Service on June 30, 2001. This represents just under 14% of its total program services revenues. Most of ETS' revenue for that year came from the SAT, PSAT, Advanced Placement, and other college admission tests ($177.6 million) and from graduate school admission tests and services, such as the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), and the Test of English as a Foreign Lanaguage (TOEFL) ($164.4 million).

As a nonprofit corporation, ETS files IRS Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Tax). Such tax returns are public. ETS' returns for 1998 through 2001 can be viewed online.

How much income was the vendor projected to receive from the tests when the testing requirement was adopted?

No information is available to answer this question. Connecticut's teacher testing requirement was adopted in 1985 (PA 85-532, An Act Concerning Testing for Prospective Teachers). The act required the State Board of Education (SBE) to establish a testing fee that paid for the cost of the tests. The fees were raised in several subsequent acts, reaching the current minimum of $75 in 1992. None of the fiscal notes on the various bills concerning teacher exam fees provide the requested information.

Were Praxis II standards lowered because of a high failure rate?

The State Board of Education reduced the passing score on the Praxis II Mathematics content knowledge test from 141 to 137 on October 3, 2001. The adjusted standard was applied to all Connecticut candidates who had taken the test since it was introduced (July 1, 1997).

According to the education commissioner's report to the SBE on the recommended change, the original passing score of 141 was set by an advisory committee representing math teachers using an accepted method for setting standards. Since there were no national or state data available for the newly developed test, the SBE approved the recommended score with the proviso that it could be adjusted later, if warranted.

The 141 passing score resulted in lower first-time and final pass rates (51% and 70%, respectively) for the math tests than for other Praxis II content knowledge tests. The commissioner's report predicted that reducing the passing score to 137 would boost final pass rates to 76%, which is more in line with final pass rates on other Praxis II tests. Commissioner Sergi said the change would not significantly lower the math knowledge and skill required either to pass the test or to teach. The change reduced Connecticut's standard from the third to the seventh-highest among the 20 states that use the test (Memo to the State Board of Education regarding Praxis Test Recommendations from Theodore Sergi, Commissioner of Education, October 3, 2001.)

There have been no adjustments in Praxis II passing scores for other subjects.

OTHER INFORMATION REGARDING PRAXIS I

New Test

ETS eliminated the Praxis I computer–based test on January 1, 2002 and substituted a test called the Praxis I-Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST). The Praxis I-PPST can be taken as a paper and pencil test or on a computer.

Test Fees

The fee for taking each PPST test with a paper and pencil is $25, plus a single $35 registration fee (a maximum of $110 for all three tests). To take the test on computer, the fee is $45 for one portion or subtest, $70 for two, and $95 for three, plus the $35 registration fee (a maximum of $130). Applicants may take each test separately or all at the same time.

Passing Scores

The SBE adopted the following passing scores for the Praxis I-PPST on December 5, 2001:

Reading – 172

Writing – 171

Math – 171

Tutorials and Test Preparation

Regional educational service centers (RESCs) used to offer a Praxis I tutorial, which they purchased from ETS. The RESCs charged applicants a $50 fee for the tutorial, with fee revenue going to the RESCs, not ETS. ETS no longer maintains the tutorial. Some RESCs still offer Praxis preparation classes (see attached). ETS also sells Praxis preparation books for between $12 and $45.

JL:eh