OMAHA — Nebraska officials are easing scoring on a test for future teachers so more applicants can pass.
An aspiring teacher could previously pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators exam with a composite score of 468, as long as no single subject score was below the minimum target: 156 in reading, 150 in math and 162 in writing.
The Nebraska State Board of Education is now allowing test takers to pass with a 468 composite score, regardless of their subject scores.
The state adopted the exam three years ago to screen applicants for teacher-education programs. It's typically taken during a student's sophomore year in college.
The three-part test is designed to measure a student's knowledge, skills and ability deemed important in a beginning teacher. The test replaced Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test, which had been used for decades.
State board member Rachel Wise said the change to composite scoring won't reduce teacher quality. She said it will provide more flexibility.
"What's happening is sometimes people are just a few points off in one area and not another area," Wise said. "If someone has a pretty significantly low score (in one subject), they're typically not going to hit the composite."
Sharon Katt, a specialist on teacher education programs for the state Department of Education, said the change to scoring is reasonable and should boost entry into teacher-education programs.
"I think it's fair to say that this will indeed open options for a fairly large group of individuals," Katt said
Sheryl Feinstein, dean of the college of education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, favors the change. She said if the change would've been implemented three years ago, the university would have an additional 100 qualified applicants.
"We have a number of students that will take it and take it and retake it," Feinstein said. "They are just missing by small amounts."