EPSB meeting graphic 6.16.23

The Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) approved an extension of expanded assessment options for educators seeking a teaching certificate during its Dec. 11 EPSB meeting.

Last year, the EPSB approved a -1 standard error of measure (SEM) for the cut score for Praxis assessments. The EPSB also approved the use of the Praxis Performance Assessment for Teachers (PPAT) to meet the content and pedagogy assessment of 16 KAR 6:010. While both changes were due to expire on Dec. 31, 2023, EPSB extended the trial run for another year during the Dec. 11 meeting.

The PPAT offers a performance-based alternative to standardized testing, while the -1 SEM adjustment is specific to Praxis assessments.

Sharon Salsman, assistant director in the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Division of Educator Preparation and Certification, explained the expanded options aim to offer candidates for certification additional opportunities to demonstrate their true abilities.

SEM is a testing principle that estimates the variation around a true score for an individual when repeated measures are taken. The standard error represents how well the test score reflects true ability. Since there will always be a chance for false positives and false negatives, Salsman said adopting a score at -1 SEM is a way to decrease the chance of false negatives, or people who have the abilities needed to teach but did not demonstrate them by meeting the recommended passing score.

The measure the EPSB approved gives educator preparation providers the choice of offering PPAT to prospective teachers. If they do offer it, they also can set grade point average requirements for candidates to use the PPAT and determine the number of placements that student teachers using the test must complete during their student teaching assignment.

Early Literacy Educator Assessments

The EPSB also approved the Praxis Teaching Reading: Elementary (5205) test as an effective evaluation of reading instruction knowledge and skills as required by KRS 164.306(2). Beginning August 1, 2024, new teachers seeking certification for teaching elementary school will be required to complete this assessment.

“We think we can look at this while continuing to look at other options, but of all the options we looked at, this is really the strongest one,” said Melissa Diebel, an education academic program manager with KDE.

Senate Bill 9 (2022), also known as the Read to Succeed Act, spurred several changes with early literacy instruction. On the teacher preparation side, the legislation focused on areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

KDE created an early literacy cohort of college and university education program representatives to: make recommendations on the assessment of reading instruction knowledge and skill; evaluate the current early literacy curriculum; provide recommendations of modification to the current early literacy curriculum; and determine what supports are needed to ensure early literacy knowledge and skills are sufficient for a first-year teacher across all educator preparation programs in Kentucky.

The Read to Succeed Act also amended KRS 164.306 and requires the EPSB to develop and maintain a list of approved teacher preparation tests for the effective evaluation of reading instruction knowledge and skills.

Beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, all new teachers seeking certification must pass an approved teacher preparation test that includes evaluation of reading instruction knowledge and skills.

Winn Crenshaw Wheeler, assistant professor of literacy at Bellarmine University and a member of the early literacy cohort, said the cohort recommended:

  • Giving prospective teachers a year with no cut scores to do no harm to those with different curricula within their literacy coursework;
  • Moving to the multistate standard-setting studies cut score established by the Educational Testing Service for the 2025-2026 school year; and
  • Adopting the -1 SEM like the board has done with all previous practice exams.

The cohort also recommended running this as a pilot for the next two years, with a review of assessment data and program employment impact after each year. The EPSB approved those recommendations.

The next EPSB meeting is scheduled for Feb. 13, 2024.