IU School of Education joining project to analyze educator preparation programs

The Indiana University School of Education has been selected as a lead institution to determine how cut scores can be refined to attract future teachers, with Alexander Cuenca, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, leading the project.

The Indiana University School of Education has been selected as a lead institution to determine how cut scores can be refined to attract future teachers, with Alexander Cuenca, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, leading the project.

As a leader in the project, the IU School of Education will collaborate with the Indiana Department of Education and Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation in Columbus, Indiana, to examine state data and practices and engage in quarterly meetings to inform guidelines and recommendations for setting cut scores for entry into educator preparation programs. Participants will discuss the successes and challenges of their states’ EPP entrance and exit requirements and consider how changes to the system can diversify the teacher workforce while also preparing quality teacher candidates.

The project is part of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s Consortium for Research-Based and Equitable Assessments (CREA), an initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative will engage 14 states in a study of their state-level tests and qualifying scores for entry into EPPs. The goal of this initiative is to examine the processes and considerations that states use to determine cut scores and how they can be refined to attract, rather than exclude, potential teacher candidates, with the hope of addressing both the national teacher shortage as well as the systematic exclusion of prospective teachers of color. Alexander Cuenca, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, is leading the project.

By exposing and changing how cut scores are set, I hope that this initiative can contribute to the diversification of the teacher workforce in Indiana and across the United States.

Alexander Cuenca

“My responsibility is to bring together voices from school districts and state education agencies to discuss and review how entry and exit teacher licensure examinations serve to exacerbate the systemic exclusion of prospective teachers of color,” he said. “We hope to work together to examine how licensure scores are set and develop policies that provide a variety of approaches for teachers to demonstrate competencies for licensure.”

Today, cut scores on standardized tests—initially implemented after Brown v. Board to block Black educators from the profession—disproportionately exclude prospective teachers of color, even when White and non-White test-takers have similar grade point averages. Researchers will investigate the decision-making process for establishing cut scores, the evaluation criteria and barriers that discourage future teachers of color to achieve assessment success, namely examination costs, bias and unreliable measurements. 

“Decades of research confirm the social and academic benefits that accrue for Black and Latine students in schools with higher percentages of Black and Latine teachers. Yet, year after year, Black and Latine students are denied these benefits because what stands between licensure and exclusion for many prospective teachers of color is an arbitrary decision made about scores on standardized licensure examinations,” Cuenca added. “For too long, the public rhetoric of rigor, quality, and accountability has shielded a close examination of how cut scores are set and how these processes contribute to systemic exclusion. By exposing and changing how cut scores are set, I hope that this initiative can contribute to the diversification of the teacher workforce in Indiana and across the United States.”

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