AACTE Releases Report on the Use and Impact of Entrance and Exit Exams in Teacher Preparation

(October 26, 2021, Washington, D.C.) The Consortium for Research-Based and Equitable Assessments (CREA) at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education has released its first report, The History, Current Use, and Impact of Entrance and Licensure Examinations Cut Scores on the Teacher of Color Pipeline: A Structural Racism Analysis. The CREA project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, engages 14 states in examining their cut score setting process for entrance examinations into teacher preparation programs. The recent report chronicles the history of teacher preparation entrance and exit assessments and their impact on the diversity of candidates pursuing teaching as a profession.

The report’s author, Leslie T. Fenwick, AACTE dean in residence (who is also a former School of Education dean), discusses in detail the intentional misuse of entrance licensure examinations after the Brown v. Board of Education (BOE) decision in 1954. According to Fenwick, there is a little-known history associated with how licensure examinations were created after Brown to block integration of Black teachers into desegregating schools:

“Few people know that in the 17 states that operated segregated schools prior to the Brown decision, Black teachers were more likely to hold teacher certification and had higher levels of certification than their White peers. This changed after Brown, when states and test-makers collaborated to create new licensure exams purposefully designed to eliminate Black men and women from the profession and from the prospect of teaching White children. In fact, in some states when this plan backfired (with more Black teachers passing the tests than Whites), states dropped those tests and created new ones. This troublesome history is an example of how structural racism impacted (and continues to impact) the teacher of color pipeline.”

The report also offers a current landscape analysis of assessment requirements for entry into educator preparation programs and the state entity responsible for setting cut scores in the participating states. “Fast forward to 67 years after the Brown decision, minority students, and Black candidates in particular, continue to experience barriers to program entry as illustrated in the median scores of Praxis I test-takers, despite research that suggests that they have similar academic performance and preparation as their White peers. This is why the CREA project is important,” said Weade James, AACTE director of development and research and CREA project lead.

“AACTE believes in equitable, high-quality preparation of profession-ready teachers. Our goal is to support states—their departments of education, their local school districts, and their college and university partners—to collaborate in identifying and employing equitable practices and policies that attract rather than exclude teacher candidates eager to serve,” said AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone. “This work holds the promise of increasing both the number of teacher candidates and teacher diversity, a core commitment of AACTE.”

In the coming months, the CREA project will release future reports on the experiences and perspectives of teacher candidates, in-service teachers, and faculty as it relates to entrance assessments, as well as recommended guidelines and model state policies to support states in setting equitable cut scores and requirements for program entry.


About AACTE: The Leading Voice on Educator Preparation

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs and partners dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are profession-ready as they enter the classroom. The over 650 member institutions and strategic partners include public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Through advocacy and capacity building, AACTE promotes innovation and effective practices that strengthen educator preparation. Learn more at aacte.org.

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