Thousands of NC Teachers Failing Math Portion of Licensing Exams

CHARLOTTE – Some revelations about the rate of licensing exam failures by teachers in the Old North State are raising eyebrows. Specifically, it’s the math portion of a the licensing exam that thousands of teachers have failed, and many more only passing after multiple attempts.

There’s a debate over whether this is the fault of teachers that just aren’t up to date on their arithmetic, or if the test itself sets an arbitrarily high math standard for teachers that are really only responsible for elementary school kids knowing their times-tables.

According to the Charlotte Observer:

“Almost 2,400 North Carolina elementary school teachers have failed the math portion of their licensing exams, which puts their careers in jeopardy, since the state hired Pearson publishing company to give the exam in 2013, according to a report presented to the state Board of Education Wednesday.

Failure rates have spiked as schools around the state struggle to find teachers for the youngest children. Education officials are now echoing what frustrated teachers have been saying: The problem may lie with the exams rather than the educators.

Teachers in Florida and Indiana have also seen mass failures when their states adopted Pearson testing, according to news reports from those states. Concern about the validity of the Pearson licensing exams is so pervasive that it was discussed at this year’s National Education Association conference, said North Carolina Association of Educators President Mark Jewell.”

It’s hard to take anything NVAE President Mark Jewell says seriously because he peddles Leftist nonsense on behalf of his union so much. But are the tests the real culprit here, should parents be concerned about the quality of their child’s public school education, or are these failure rates even that big of a deal?

Last point, first.

It North Carolina has over 100,000 teachers, and nearly 2,400 have failed these math portions over five years (since 2013), how pervasive is the problem, really? Less than 2.5 percent failure rates (no math major, here) doesn’t jump off the page as super alarming.

However, it appears the problems are a little more sever than a mere couple percentage points.

“Before 2014, new elementary teachers had to pass state exams, known as the Praxis, before they could start work. Those pass rates hovered around 85 percent or higher, according to a presentation given to the Board of Education Wednesday afternoon. After that they had to take reading, math and general curriculum exams, all provided by the for-profit publishing company Pearson, and pass them by the end of their second year of teaching.

Math has proven to be a stumbling block, said Tom Tomberlin, director of school research, data and reporting for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. The first year only 65 percent of teachers passed the new “foundations of math” exam, falling to 54.5 percent by 2016-17, the most recent year reported.

During the first three years of the Pearson exam, that represented 2,386 failures.”

The teachers struggling aren’t coping too well with the pressure, probably bringing them a little closer to their over-tested over-pressured students.

“Katie Steele, a special education teacher in Alexander County, said she graduated from Appalachian State with honors in 2015, has received “wonderful evaluations” and was named her county’s first-year teacher of the year. But she’s able to keep teaching next year only because of the extension.

“Many of us have taken each one 3-4 times each,” she wrote in an email. “There seems to be a magic number of about 4 times per test before Pearson ‘passes’ you.”

Steele said she attended a training session to help her pass the math exam: “I sat and cried in this training with TONS of other beginning teachers who can’t pass these tests.” She’s expecting her scores on her latest attempt at the end of this week. Between retesting and test-prep classes, “these test are costing new teachers hundreds and thousands of dollars,” she said.”

Whether the test is just too advanced to be a practical requirement for licensure, or far too many teachers really are falling short is a question in need of answers. To that end, the State is setting up a committee to to look into the matter.

Either way, this does seem to reflect badly on the bureaucratic, top-down, overly regulated system of State-sponsored education that the Left loves to push. Somehow the more a government is involved with something, the messier and less effective it becomes.

Read more here.

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