Indiana is switching up its teacher licensing program in response to complaints about low pass rates under the current testing program, in hopes of addressing a shortage of teachers in the state.
Educational Testing Service, or ETS, a Princeton, New Jersey-based not-for-profit organization, will replace Pearson Education Inc. beginning in September 2021 as the provider of licensing tests for prospective teachers, said Indiana Department of Education spokesman Adam Baker.
ETS handled the program in Indiana until Pearson became the state’s testing vendor in 2014.
The move comes after Republican state Sen. Jean Leising, of Oldenburg, introduced legislation this year that required the state Board of Education to adopt a program that’s administered nationally.
“I’m anxious to see what kind of results we get and I’m going to be monitoring this very closely after we have a couple years of data to see if pass rates improve over what we’ve been seeing on the current test used,” Leising said, adding that the change is a step in the right direction in dealing with the teacher shortage in Indiana.
Pearson customized its tests to Indiana standards, while ETS provides national exams. For several years, Indiana educators and prospective teachers have criticized Pearson’s testing program, the Tribune-Star reported.
“Test content and the scores required for passing are determined by each state and are informed by recommendations from local educators resulting from standard setting activities,” Pearson director of media relations Scott Overland wrote in an email to the newspaper. “While we are disappointed in this decision, we are proud to serve students, teachers, and institutions in Indiana in many other ways and always are ready to help meet Indiana’s education goals.”
Rachel Williams, a media specialist, said passing Pearson’s certification test for school media specialist was difficult even when she had worked four years at a library.
“As someone who took both the ETS and Pearson test for school librarian, I can tell you that the ETS asked questions that actually pertained to my job as a school librarian,” William said. “I absolutely see it as a positive move (from Pearson to ETS).”
Tim McRoberts, associate executive director of the Indiana Association of School Principals, said the changes could definitely be helpful.
“There is no doubt about that,” McRoberts said.