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State test changes don't affect ed school priorities

Feb. 2, 2001

Administrators stress education over exit exams

By CAROLINE BORIACK

Reporter

The School of Education continues to make its program better for students in the teacher education program.

At the same time, the State Board for Educator Certification is adding new certificates for teachers and reworking its exit tests, which will affect both teacher education programs and the students in them. The new tests have not been developed yet but will be in effect by September 2002.

While changes are being made in the School of Education, they are not a specific response to the proposed changes in the exit tests, said Dr. John Bateman, associate dean for academic affairs.

He said Baylor had been planning to restructure the teacher education program before the state announced plans to change the way students are certified to teach.

Approximately 95 percent of Baylor graduates seeking teaching certificates pass the exit exams. Bateman assures that the exams are a secondary consideration in restructuring the program. However, the tests are critical for how the state evaluates schools.

'They want 100 percent passing rate on the exit test. So they say they'll do anything to make that happen,' Erin McGehee, a Plano sophomore, said. 'They will structure the new classes so they can better help prepare students to take the exit [test] and also offer tutoring for preparation as well as anything else needed.'

While no concerns have been expressed that colleges will be teaching students to pass the exit tests rather than how to be good teachers, Bateman says they are implicit. However, he says Baylor is preparing its students above what is expected for the test by giving them the best possible education.

'I think as long as Baylor keeps the focus on not just passing the exit but becoming a greater teacher, it will be beneficial,' McGehee said.

'Our focus on actual experience rather than on lecture-based course work will prepare our students to be better teachers without over-emphasizing passing the exit exam,' said Dr. Betty Conaway, chair and associate professor of curriculum and instruction.

The full-year internships, which will replace the current 12-week student teaching experience, are part of the actual experience that is being built into the teacher education program.

These internships will give students an opportunity to see what teaching in a school is like. Student teachers will be developing the children's knowledge at the same time they are developing their own, Conaway said.

'The test is scenario-based so the more experience you have in a classroom working with children, the more likely you are to pass the test,' Conaway said.

The internships will be a collaborative effort between the school of education and local schools. Students will still be registered at Baylor and pay tuition. The details of the internship are still being discussed as the program is being developed.