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Rethinking What It Takes to Teach

An assistant professor from Wilmington University’s College of Education is leading a team of Delaware teachers and school officials as part of a national effort to examine the entry requirements for education degrees and the teaching profession.

Early this year, the Delaware Department of Education selected Dr. Michele Brewer, the COE’s chair of Technology, Assessment, and Compliance, to direct the state’s contributions to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s (AACTE) Consortium for Research-Based and Equitable Assessments.

The research that the Delaware team, and teams from 13 other states, deliver could help more aspiring educators pursue teaching careers.

Dr. Michele Brewer

Dr. Michele Brewer was selected by the Delaware Department of Education to lead the state’s contributions to the AACTE’s research.

“Reconsidering teacher certification and licensure requirements may change the profession by providing more opportunities for recruiting and training talented individuals who have a passion for teaching,” says Dr. Brewer. “Delaware’s education stakeholders understand that these assessments and examinations may be an obstacle for potential teachers, which is why exploring possible reforms and innovations is crucial.”

Dr. Brewer, COE Dean Dr. John Gray, and WilmU’s Director of Teacher Preparation Alfred DiEmedio join more than a dozen educators and administrators from Delaware’s school districts, charter schools, college teaching programs, and Department of Education in surveying stakeholders and collecting data for the AACTE’s research efforts.

The main focus of these efforts — which are funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — is an evaluation and comparison of the criteria that states use in setting standardized test score requirements, or “cut scores,” for entry into college-level teacher preparation programs.

Upon their conclusion early next year, the research efforts aim to present state education authorities and lawmakers nationwide with recommendations for rethinking test score requirements as a way to address teacher shortages and diversity concerns.

“Setting cut scores on commonly used tests in educational contexts should involve policymakers, educators, measurement professionals, and other stakeholders in a multi-stage process,” says Dr. Brewer. “Unfortunately, this is not the norm across the country, with arbitrary cut scores creating barriers for aspiring educators,
particularly for minority candidates. It is critical to obtain consensus among the stakeholders.”

Delaware eliminated entrance exam requirements for teacher preparation programs (known as the Praxis Core) in 2017. It still requires passing scores on Praxis II Content tests, which measure general and subject-specific content knowledge, for state licensure and certification.

—David Bernard

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