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More testing for education majors

Education
Education major Lauren Mapes reads about the Praxis Series tests she will have to take to become a licensed teacher. Education majors now have to take an additional Praxis test. — Emily Novotny/TRUMPET

Wartburg College education majors will now be required to take more testing to receive their teaching licenses as regulated by the Iowa state government.

The Education Department Chair, Cheryl O’Brien, said the department first heard the news after receiving a letter on Sept. 18 explaining that students will now have to take not one, but two tests.

“I think one of the reasons was to meet criteria of being a highly qualified teacher and proving that a student has content knowledge,” O’Brien said. “And one way to do that is to show a test score.”

In terms of cost, O’Brien said students will have to pay between $130 and $160 per exam. In addition, the future educators will then have to pay another $150 just to receive their teaching license after they pass.

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The faculty understands the new additions to the certification process but doesn’t like to see students have to deal with the sudden change, O’Brien said.

“It’s mandated now. There’s nothing we can do about it,” O’Brien said. “We feel very badly that students have to pay for it with quick notice.”

According to ets.org, the tests are part of The Praxis Series required for those entering the teaching profession. The Praxis I test contains basic skills while the Praxis II test contains the two new assessments required.

The Principles of Learning and Teaching Test consists of questions about the psychology of teaching and development of student learning. The Content Test will consist of questions depending on the students’ concentration varying from elementary to music education.

O’Brien said these changes will affect students not just financially, but emotionally as well. For elementary education majors, Kristin Helle and Jess Wallace, the feeling is too familiar.

The fourth-year students, who

will be taking the tests this November, plan to attend Wartburg West to begin student teaching during Winter Term. But they will not be able to do so until they pass both exams.

Because of the state regulation, third-year students must take these tests before student teaching. Seniors who are currently student teaching will then need to complete them afterwards before they can receive their license.

Helle agrees the exams will strengthen her qualifications as a teacher but the timing to add the new requirements doesn’t make it easy on the seniors.

“It adds a lot of stress,” Helle said. “Going back a year, if I was a junior finding out about this, I’d have a whole year to get it figured out.”

Wallace added that graduation also becomes an issue because of the new certification requirements.

“If we happen to ever not pass this test, we can’t graduate from here,” Wallace said.

Despite the setbacks, all hope is not lost for future teachers like Helle and Wallace, O’Brien said. There are many options to help prepare for the upcoming assessments. She said the best way to prepare is to study with partners and to take advantage of study materials offered by the professors.

“I think they will do just fine. No one’s ever not passed it,” O’Brien said. “Wartburg prepares them well.”

 

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