TITLE: Powerful Beyond Measure: African American Assessments of the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam Experience
Education policymakers in Minnesota and across the U.S. are moving state policies toward increased use of standardized tests to certify new teachers. As with the certification testing in most states, statistics on the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Examinations (MTLE) reveal large and persistent score gaps between Black and White examinees. Since obtaining licensure to teach is contingent upon a passing MTLE score, the exam acts as a gatekeeper, directly impacting the racial demographics and diversity of the largely White teacher workforce.
Although numerous studies have explored factors affecting the racial score gap and teacher licensure exams, relatively few have focused on the emotional dimension of the examinees’ testing experiences and personal interpretations of the test as a comprehensive event. This phenomenological research study was conducted to gain a better understanding of Black teacher candidates’ experiences with and perceptions of the MTLE testing event. Though limited in size and scope, the project was meant to serve as a way to begin exploring explanations for the Black-White teacher licensure test score gap through investigation of the lived experiences of African American test-takers.
By understanding the factors related to African American preservice and inservice teachers’ experiences with and perceptions about licensure examinations, state policymakers and education professionals may be able to implement changes that will narrow the racial score gap, thus increasing teacher diversity.
THESES DEFENDED AND APPROVED: December 2015