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Release: Sept. 25, 2000

UI to help education students transition to state-mandated test

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Students applying to the University of Iowa's teacher education program will soon be required to take a state-mandated exam before admission, and the College of Education is taking steps to make the transition as smooth as possible.

The Iowa State Legislature now requires students applying to teacher education programs to take an exam measuring basic competency in reading, writing and mathematics prior to admission to those programs. Students applying to the University of Iowa's teacher education program will need to take the Praxis I exam, developed by the Educational Testing Service. The test -- offered in both paper and pencil ($110) and computerized ($130) versions -- can be taken on the UI campus and elsewhere around the state.

The legislative mandate requires teacher education programs to begin requiring the test for students entering in fall 2001. That means as many as 600 UI students will be required to take the Praxis I before the March and June 2001 application deadlines if they want to be admitted to the teacher education program in the fall 2001 semester.

Although the UI will eventually establish a cutoff score, during the first two years -- 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 -- no student will be denied admittance to the teacher-education program based on the Praxis I alone. Instead the College of Education will evaluate the Praxis scores along with other admission materials, such as ACT scores, personal statements, and letters of recommendation. The college will use data collected during these two years to establish a cutoff score for future applicants.

Also during the transition, the UI will offer students a grace period, allowing them to be conditionally accepted to the program so long as they submit Praxis scores by the end of their first semester (and assuming they meet all other admission requirements). Students' performance in their first-semester courses and on the Praxis exam will be evaluated in making a final admission decision.

"The test represents a new and unanticipated cost in becoming a teacher," said Professor Jim Marshall, director of teacher education in the UI College of Education. "And making the transition to the new requirement will call for some logistical handiwork on everyone's part. But the state, and for that matter much of the country, seems increasingly convinced that such tests are a necessary part of ensuring the basic academic skills of our teachers."

Marshall said he is not concerned about the skills of UI students, however.

"Our teacher education students are so consistently strong, on standardized tests and other measures, that we are very confident about the outcomes here," he said. "We want to work within the spirit of the state requirement, though, and we want to make this transition as smooth as possible."

Two Web sites are available to provide more information about this new requirement: The UI College of Education's Office of Student Services and Student Field Experiences at http://www.uiowa.edu/~edstuser/, and the Educational Testing Service's Teaching and Learning Division Web site at www.teachingandlearning.org. Students may also contact Bonnie Pryor in UI Education Student Services by phone toll-free at (800) 553-4692, ext. 5360, locally at (319) 335-5360 or by e-mail at bonnie-pryor@uiowa.edu.