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Should Teacher Candidates Pass Their Content Knowledge Test Prior to Student Teaching?

The PESB would like input deciding whether or not to require teacher candidates to pass the content knowledge test (WEST-E / NES) in the endorsement area being earned prior to student teaching. Currently, the content test is required, but there is no deadline for passing the assessment. The rationale for this proposed change is:
  • P-12 teachers and administrators expect student teachers to have the content knowledge required in a subject area before they are student teaching with P-12 students.
  • School districts are unable to offer teaching contracts, or have to rescind contract offers, when teacher candidates are unable to pass the content test prior to the beginning of the school year.
  • P-12 superintendents have been reported to the Office of Professional Practices for hiring student teachers who have not passed all program requirements in order to receive a residency teaching certificate, putting the superintendent’s certification at risk.

On the other hand, not requiring the content test to be passed prior to student teaching allows teacher candidates an extended opportunity to pass the test. Candidates may be better prepared to pass the content test during or after student teaching.

The Board would like to have the input of P-12 principals on this issue. They welcome public comment—written or verbal—from principals and their colleagues. Feedback may be sent to coleen.putaansuu@k12.wa.us or via the public comment options posted at http://www.pesb.wa.gov/contactboard.