The state of Indiana is currently considering a bill (SB 387) that would make it possible for a teacher candidate to receive an initial teaching license without passing the appropriate content exam, which in Indiana are provided by Pearson. The proposed law is now in committee discussions. It would allow an individual who 1) took the exam twice and did not pass; 2) who received a score that is not more than one standard error of measure lower than the passing score for the exam; and 3) who has been hired by a school corporation to receive an initial practitioner’s license even though the test was not passed. A school district cannot hire more than 10% of such individuals for open positions. The new teacher will be required to participate in the Indiana mentor program.
Many in teacher education in Indiana believe the content exams are not accurate measures of candidate knowledge, so they are in favor of the proposed waiver, as they see it as an elimination of unnecessary bureaucracy. Others are worried about the precedent this waiver might set and how it might reflect on Indiana’s educational reputation. As Indiana lawmakers traditionally favor content coursework and instruction over education coursework in other contexts (such as the state requirements for teaching AP courses, which is currently 18 credit hours in the content area), it seems ironic that they are considering this waiver of a content test assessment. Last, teacher education institutions were hoping that the waiver process would originate in the teacher education colleges or schools, as they arguably know their students (the teacher candidates) best and could make effective case-by-case decisions. However, this proposed law gives the waiver power to the department of education instead. It is unclear when the bill will leave committee and be considered for final approval.