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Teacher Cert and the Praxis II, and Legacy Preference Ban Gets a Public Hearing

Tracking Teacher Certification: Exploring the Praxis II

On Monday, the Connecticut Educator Certification Council (CECC) had another meeting as it moves towards consensus on a legislative package to modernize teacher preparation and certification. The group heard from Ajit Gopalakrishnan, Chief Performance Officer at the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)—who presented on Connecticut's new Educator Preparation Provider (EPP) Dashboard, which provides data regarding teacher candidates, completers, certification, assessment, employment, and persistence.


Legislation passed in 2021 required the CSDE to study current assessment requirements for educator certification and pass rates. Accordingly, the CSDE built this new EPP dashboard to display information related to measures of content-area mastery, and also engaged Boston University's Wheelock Educational Policy Center to explore the effect on prospective teachers of failing the required licensure exams. 


In its report this month, the CSDE indicates that white candidates who have completed EPPs have between a 75%-77.3% first time pass rate, while candidates of color have between a 59%-66% first time pass rate. The study also breaks out pass rates for candidates of color by EPP, finding the lowest first attempt pass rates at CREC and Relay. However, more than 90% of all candidates and 85% of candidates of color continue on to pass the required assessments with additional attempts. 


The research team at Wheelock found that there is a small, positive relationships between performance on the Praxis II and student achievement in both ELA and math; however, failing the first attempt at the Praxis II also has a significant deterrent effect for candidates seeking to become certified teachers, especially in the area of STEM.


The CSDE's report argued that, "Praxis II is a valid measure of minimum content knowledge for individuals entering the teaching profession and is warranted given the rigors of the CT Core Standards." However, it recommended that the state provide alternative approaches to demonstrating content knowledge for candidates who are only close to passing the required assessments after two attempts.


As the CECC gets close to coalescing around a legislative proposal regarding these and other issues impacting teacher preparation and certification—New Teacher Track Coalition released materials this week to explain why this effort is important to parents and families. Initiated by our clever colleagues at the School and State Finance Project and Special Education Equity for Kids of Connecticut, the "Parents' Guide to  the Teacher Certification Proposals Happening in the 2024 Legislative Session" helps to explain how and why teacher preparation and certification systems impact families. Get it here.


Legacy Preference Ban Gets a Public Hearing

Mark your calendars for TOMORROW,  February 29th at 1:00pm! The Higher Education Committee will hold a public hearing on a bill that seeks to ban legacy preference in both public and private institutions of higher education. Legacy Preference is the admissions practice of giving a weighted advantage to college applicants with family members who are alumni. It perpetuates racial and socio-economic inequities by giving an advantage to students with multigenerational privilege—and research from our affiliate ERN CT shows that over a quarter of CT 4-year colleges explicitly engage in this practice. 


Last month, reporting by Alex Putterman at CT Insider described how this bill could make Connecticut the first state in the nation to ban the practice in both public and private colleges. 


In her written testimony for Thursday's hearing, Amy writes that this policy is a form of systemic racism, designed to hoard educational opportunity among the wealthy. Moreover, "A college graduate’s diploma should represent his or her accomplishments over the course of an academic career. When we cloud that narrative with concerns about family connections, we devalue a graduate’s achievements—and indeed, the worth of college education in and of itself.” 


Do you have thoughts on this unfair policy to share with the legislature? They want to hear from you. Upload your written testimony here by 3pm today. And feel free to use this simple template as a starting point.


📌 Pinned Articles

How should schools teach reading? It's the hottest debate in CT education

A lot of articles this school year have talked about the Right to Read implementation process and about disgruntled districts, but this article from CT Insider describes “the why” of state denials of district waivers: “Peruse the waiver applications of those 25 districts, and you'll notice some names coming up again and again: Teachers College, for example. Fountas and Pinnell, for another. These are so-called ‘balanced literacy’ programs, which typically ask students to decipher words using not only letters but also context clues.” Must read.

Westport protesters rally outside Staples for policy change after claims of school racism

At least three big stories this school year have looked at Westport Public Schools and their response to parents in the face of serious concerns about students’ civil rights protections and safety. The district leadership’s responses to parents have prompted accusations of being dismissive and have repeatedly led to legal action. (See examples here and here.)


This latest article from the CT Post describes yet another serious allegation, and resultant protest outside the high school yesterday. 


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