State Board approves enhanced basic
skills test for future teachers
August 23, 2001 (217) 782-4648
Chicago – The State Board of Education today approved administering a significantly more rigorous basic skills test for future teachers.
Current teacher candidates seeking initial certification will take Illinois’ new “enhanced basic skills test” on September 15. The state requires passage of a basic skills test for initial certification.
The State Board also sought approval of emergency rules from the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules on the cut scores needed to pass the enhanced basic skills test.
The State Board last October directed staff to create a new, more challenging basic skills test aligned with the Illinois Learning Standards, encompassing new test items and passing scores.
The old test asked questions that equated to roughly an 8th or 9th-grade education. The new test is geared to a college sophomore level.
“Teachers are a vital part of the process to help prepare students to be successful in life after school,” McGee said.
“They guide and help shape our students’ minds. So we must have the best teachers possible in our classrooms. This is an effective and efficient step to take to give our schools the tools they need to do that,” he said.
Meanwhile the State Board also directed staff to research and compare the available nationally-normed basic skills tests for prospective teacher candidates, with an eye on switching to such a test in the future. State Board staff will report back in December.
McGee had planned to recommend administering such a test in 2003. But the State Board put off discussing that option until more information can be provided outlining how such a test would compare to and improve upon the enhanced basic skills test.
McGee had also planned to recommend that teaching candidates be required to pass such a test before entering a college or university teacher preparation program.
A nationally-normed test would allow Illinois to recruit and hire new teachers from outside the state by comparing scores of teaching candidates from across the country who would have taken the same test. That is an important consideration given the state’s imminent teacher shortage.
There were about 2,600 unfilled teaching positions statewide about a year ago. Those numbers will increase significantly in the next three years, when 40 percent of teachers and 47 percent of administrators approach retirement, student enrollments continue to grow and the private sector attracts teachers into more lucrative jobs, according to a State Board study published last December.