Students tring to get Praxis test scores up

Grambling University as well as historically black colleges and universities throughout the United States have traditionally been the source of talented African American teachers. In an effort to help students become certified, a workshop was held for Grambling State University faculty and staff. This workshop was funded through a Title III grant, Strengthening Teacher Preparations. Gloria Rabon is the grant coordinator, and Beverly Hill-Hercules is Director of Title III Programs. Certification Support Specialist (CSS) Suzan Bailey is the coordinator of the grant.

“The College of Education proposes to enhance and strengthen services to retain and graduate highly qualified educators to meet the need in our state and nation. The activity of this grant is designed to strengthen programs and services for teacher candidates to increase the number of certified teachers graduating from the program,” said Bailey.

She said the workshop is one area of focus aimed at fortifying their teacher preparation programs, and one focus of this grant is to strengthen faculty skills in facilitating test preparation activities. “The workshop is an avenue that provided critical information about the Praxis tests and methods for using this information to support teacher candidates,” said Bailey.

She said their goal was to provide vital information that would assist in preparing candidates for the Praxis tests. “Our focus was to help faculty gain a better understanding of what topics are assessed on the Praxis tests, an understanding of specific aspects of the Praxis tests that tend to give teacher candidates difficulty and strategies for success and information on how to augment or adapt instruction to better prepare students for assessments.”

Bailey has worked for 20 years in higher education focusing on Student Development/First Year Experience by teaching personal adjustment, study skills, and student success courses.

Rabon, the author of the grant, said that the workshop was held because one challenge for teacher candidates is passing the required Praxis examinations. She said, “This grant was written to provide additional opportunities to meet testing requirements and to increase opportunities for teacher candidates to develop knowledge, skills, and dispositions that enable them to excel in modern classrooms.”

Rabon said she wanted participants to develop awareness of the challenge these exams are and be able to help them with understanding content and developing strategies for success. “Faculty teaching courses that impact candidate’s readiness needed an opportunity to become familiar with the exams so they would be empowered to help teacher candidates prepare,” she said.

The number of teachers graduating from these institutions must increase to meet the nation’s need for minority teachers in public schools. Our goal is to increase the number of teacher candidates graduating from all teacher education programs at Grambling State University by 25% by 2012,” said Rabon, who is also the Director of Professional Laboratory Experiences.

“I think this workshop was very helpful to participants. Participants
were able to expand their knowledge about the challenges that teacher candidates face in a collegial environment,” said Rabon.

One participant who enjoyed the workshop and benefited from it was Dr. Patricia P. Johnson, who has served as a PK-16+ Coordinator/Assistant Professor at GSU for the last five years.

“I gained knowledge about the composition of the tests, the time frames/limits for the tests, the content and structure of the tests, the types of constructed response and multiple choice items on the tests, and the types of responses expected as well as information about how the tests are scored,” said Johnson.