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Vol. 47, No. 43

June 18, 2013

New Assessments Focus on Preparing Future Teachers for the Classroom

The State Board of Education reviewed Missouri's progress on implementing new assessments to help prepare future teachers for the classroom at its meeting Tuesday in Jefferson City.

The new assessments for the state's educator preparation programs are being phased in over the next two years for prospective teachers, as well as guidance counselors, librarians and school administrators.

"These assessments are designed to help new teachers and school leaders become effective educators," said Chris L. Nicastro, commissioner of education. "Quality educators are the most important factor in providing students with the knowledge and skills they need for college, other postsecondary training and a career."

Preparing, developing and supporting effective educators is a primary goal of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Top 10 by 20 initiative, which calls for education in Missouri to rank among the top 10 performing states in the nation by the year 2020.

The State Board is responsible for establishing standards for the education, assessment and certification of all public school teachers and administrators in Missouri. The board approved updated standards for the state's educator preparation programs in November 2012.

The new assessments are aligned to the new standards and are part of the Missouri Educator Gateway Assessment (MEGA) program and include:

    • Missouri General Education Assessment: This test for admission into undergraduate professional educator preparation programs includes sections on English language arts, writing, mathematics, science and social science. The assessment will begin in September 2013 and will replace the current College BASE (CBASE) test.
    • Missouri Educator Profile (MEP): This new assessment is designed to measure a person's work style as it relates to the field of education. The MEP is set to begin in September 2013 and will assess the characteristics of individuals pursuing certification as a teacher, counselor, librarian and school leaders, including principals and superintendents.
    • Content Specialty Assessments: These exit exams must be completed by prospective educators, including teachers, counselors, librarians, principals and superintendents, for all areas of certification they are seeking. The assessments are aligned with state and national standards and will begin in September 2014. They will replace the current Praxis test.
    • Missouri Standards-Based Performance Assessments: These new assessments for prospective teachers, counselors, librarians, principals and superintendents will measure their performance in content, coursework and clinical experiences, including student teaching and internships. The assessments are set to start in September 2014.

The work the Department is doing will help to address some of the concerns voiced in the NCTQ Teacher Prep Review released today by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and U.S. News & World Report. The Review evaluates more than 1,100 educator preparation programs nationwide, providing prospective students, parents and school districts with information about the quality of available programs.

According to the Review, only two teacher preparation programs in the state -- Missouri State University and Missouri University of Science and Technology -- earned at least three out of four possible stars to make the high-rated program list, while other institutions received lower marks or chose not to participate.

Missouri's new certification and testing requirements through the MEGA program will raise the bar in a number of areas, including increasing the admission and licensing standards, aligning teacher preparation with the Common Core State Standards, improving clinical preparation and holding preparation programs accountable for student success.

More information about educator preparation in Missouri can found at dese.mo.gov/eq/ep/.