Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Teaching programs subjected to review

Ky. graduates score low on certification exams

By Charles Wolfe
Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Teacher preparation programs at Cumberland College and Kentucky State University are coming under scrutiny from a state accrediting board.

        Aspiring teachers from both institutions had high failure rates on national exams they needed to pass for state certification, and the Education Professional Standards Board on Monday ordered a staff review to ascertain the reasons.

        If the programs are found to be deeply flawed, the board has the power to forbid them to admit students this fall.

        “I really think it's a matter of truth in advertising,” board member Mark Wasicsko, dean of education at Eastern Kentucky University, told other board members. “You need to tell students going there that there may be a problem.”

        The national exam, PRAXIS II, actually is a collection of exams designed to measure a prospective teacher's knowledge of the subject he or she proposes to teach. Those taking PRAXIS have completed college but have not yet been certified.

        Kentucky State, in Frankfort, had the poorest showing among graduates who took the exam last August. Ten of 15 elementary education graduates failed to score above the 25th percentile, the minimum required by Kentucky for certification. Four KSU graduates took a PRAXIS exam for physical education, and three failed.

        At Cumberland, a private college in Williamsburg, five graduates were tested in special education, and four failed.

        Jack Rose, dean of education at Murray State University, voted against the mandatory staff reviews. Mr. Rose said the possibility of an education program effectively being shut down so quickly was unfair to the institutions and their students.

        Some others said the quicker, the better. “I think we owe it to everyone to say these universities are not meeting the standards,” said board member Arthur Green, a teacher from Elkton. “If you decide to go there, it's your problem.”

        Calls to Kentucky State and Cumberland College were not immediately returned.

        The standards board voted to have three other institutions — the University of Louisville, Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University — review parts of their programs in which the failure rate exceeded 30 percent. Each school then is to draw up an improvement plan.

        The troublesome subjects are biology and special education at Eastern Kentucky, music concepts at Louisville, and physical education at Morehead.


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- Teaching programs subjected to review