TTU teacher candidates earn 99 percent pass rate on state licensure exam

Tennessee Tech University teacher candidates are among the head of the class when it comes to passing the state’s professional licensing exam.

Of the 259 TTU education majors who took the Educational Testing Service’s PRAXIS II teacher licensing exams last year, 256 of those students passed, earning a 99 percent success rate for the university and exceeding the state’s 96 percent average.

“I’m so proud of how well our students have done,” said Darrell Garber, TTU’s dean of education. “The pass rate in 2000 — the year I became dean — was 91 percent, with the state average at 93 percent. I thought we could do better than that, and I’m pleased to discover I was right.”

Sandy H. Smith, TTU’s director of teacher education, said the university’s pass rate for the licensing exam hovered at or around 90 percent for several years but began to improve in 2000, when the College of Education began requiring the test for student-teaching rather than simply graduation.

“We began offering a series of preparatory sessions that can also be counted as a one-hour special topics course, although most education majors don’t need the elective and participate on a non-credit basis,” she said.

Each student’s attendance and progress is closely monitored throughout the series of five weekly sessions, which focus on techniques for testing success, such as applying teaching theories and strategies in practical situations.

“The PRAXIS II was created to test the limits of a teacher candidate’s knowledge, not just in subject content but also in practical teaching applications. It’s a comprehensive series of cognitive tests that aren’t made to be easy,” said Nikki Harrison, a TTU graduate assistant who helped lead the preparatory sessions.

The greatest single improvement in any specific testing category, Garber said, was World and United States History, up from only 71 percent to 100.

Other significant areas of improvement were in the Special Education and Physical Education Content categories, each with a previous pass rate of 77 percent and now up to 95 and 94 percent respectively.

Requiring students to take the licensure exam prior to student-teaching has not only helped TTU increase its overall pass rate, however, Smith said.

“It’s also created more confident student teachers — and learning how to be confident and comfortable in front of a classroom is what being a teacher is all about.”

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