A new law, Public Chapter 1020, passed by the legislature in 2012 requires all teachers-of-record for courses in which there are state-level end-of-course (EOC) exams to carry a subject-specific endorsement for the subject area of the class. Teachers of EOC classes who don’t have the required endorsement on their license must “demonstrate sufficient content knowledge in the course material by taking, at the teacher’s own expense, and by passing a standardized or criterion-referenced test for the content area.”
As many as a thousand Tennessee teachers may be affected by the law, according to estimates by the Tennessee Department of Education. Teachers most likely to be impacted by this new law are alternative school and special education teachers at the secondary level.
Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman has informed school districts of the new requirement and the schedule for PRAXIS tests, passage of which meets the requirement of the law. However, the statute does not mention PRAXIS. What’s more, options for taking PRAXIS between now and January 1, 2013—the effective date of the law—are limited, and the fee for taking PRAXIS is costly.
There are alternatives to passing PRAXIS that meet both the letter and intent of the law. Dr. B. J. Worthington, director of schools for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School District, has promised to develop district-made content knowledge tests that meet the state requirement and will be provided at no cost to teachers. The district is also providing free study guides and free tutoring for affected teachers to assist them in passing the tests.
Every teacher-of-record for EOC classes who does not have an endorsement in the appropriate content area should check with one’s principal/administrator to determine what options are available and what support the district will provide teachers to comply with the law. Districts may identify or create alternative content-knowledge tests; provide leave time, study materials and tutoring, in-service credit and/or reimbursement for travel expenses to study for and take the standardized, criterion-referenced or PRAXIS exam; or reassign teachers so they are the teacher-of-record only for subjects in which they hold the appropriate endorsement/s.
Teachers with questions should consult with their TEA UniServ Coordinator.