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Officials considering testing alternatives for math teachers

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota officials are thinking about making it easier for some educators to get the credentials they need to teach high school-level math.

Currently, public school teachers must pass content-specific tests for particular subjects such as math to be certified to teach, and almost half of aspiring math teachers in South Dakota are flunking the exam, according to the state's top education officials.

Standards for teachers won't be lowered, said State Board of Education President Don Kirkegaard, but officials want to see if there are alternatives better suited to teachers who might not specialize in math, or who teach only lower levels.

"Our benchmark isn't too high," Kirkegaard said. "It's the same benchmark that other states have as well."

The New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service is used by 36 states, and all but three of them use the same cut score as South Dakota for future math teachers. And the test's national results for math from the 2014-15 school year, on average, put South Dakota teachers above those in the other states.

"We're not the only state that really has concerns," said Abby Javurek-Humig, director of the South Dakota Department of Education's division of assessment and accountability.

But South Dakota wouldn't be lowering those cut scores for teachers. Instead, it will implement "a different bar for different classes," Kirkegaard said.

Teachers might be able to earn a separate endorsement and avoid the certification exam, the Argus Leader ( ) reported.

The proposal is expected to be considered by the board at its next meeting on July 27 in Rapid City.


Information from: Argus Leader,

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