(The Center Square) – The first-time pass rates of Illinois elementary teacher licensure tests have been under wraps for more than two decades until now.
The National Council on Teacher Quality released the data Wednesday after a two-year study.
Illinois teachers struggled most with the Language and Literacy test, ranging from 51% passed to 94% depending on the institution.
“When you look within a state, we actually found on average a 56 percentage point gap between the lowest and highest performing institutions in the state on the first-time pass rate,” said Hannah Putnam, managing director of research for NCTQ.
Six states – Connecticut, Louisiana, New jersey, Florida, Virginia and South Carolina – have at least one teacher-prep program where not a single test taker passed on their first attempt.
In many states, less than half of all test takers pass on their first try, with even lower pass rates reported for candidates of color.
“This information showed that there is a concern with pass rates on licensure tests but we just didn’t know where candidates were being more successful and where they were struggling,” said Putnam.
Almost a quarter of potential teachers nationwide who failed the test on the first try do not try again. Illinois does not provide so-called “walk away” numbers.
Illinois did receive high marks from the NCTQ for building a data system for teacher preparation. They point to Illinois going from simple spreadsheets to a sophisticated report card system to promote preparation program improvement.
A request for comment from the Illinois State Board of Education went unanswered.
In 1998, Congress passed Title II of the Higher Education Act in an attempt to hold teacher education accountable. Teacher-prep programs were asked to report their passing rates on licensing exams, among other data. In 2008, the law was rewritten to include a requirement for programs to report the percentage of students who passed any single assessment. Unlike the summary pass rate data, the information is not limited to only people who completed the program.
Twelve states opted not to share their data with NCTQ or only supplied incomplete data, including Illinois’ neighbors Indiana and Wisconsin.