Testing Candidates' Basic Reading Skills to Ensure Teacher Quality: Promising Practice or Problematic Policy?

Fall, 2011

Source: Action in Teacher Education, Vol. 33, Issue 3, p. 246-253. (Fall, 2011).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study investigates the relationship between teacher candidates' reading abilities and their performance on the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES) and Pedagogy and Professional Responsibilities (PPR).

The following questions guided this research:
1. Is a candidate's overall reading ability (as measured by the THEA Reading exam) a valid predictor of his or her professional qualifications (as measured by success on the TExES PPR)?
2. Could a lower THEA Reading score effectively serve as admissions criteria without jeopardizing pass rates on an examination of professional competence (i.e., the TExES PPR)?


The participants were one hundred and fifty undergraduate students enrolled in the teacher education program of a university in south Texas.

The THEA was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as an examination for evaluating prospective students' reading, writing, and math skills.
It was developed specifically for evaluating prospective students' readiness for coursework at Texas colleges and universities.

Teacher candidates' THEA Reading scores were matched with their TExES PPR scores.

At the time of the current study, teacher candidates were required to achieve a score of 260 on the THEA reading exam to be admitted into the teacher education program at this south Texas university.

Most teacher candidates who failed to achieve the required score of 260 continued to retake the THEA Reading exam until they achieved the required passing score.
For the purposes of the current study, only a candidate's first, second, and third attempts on the THEA Reading exam were included in the analyses.


Data indicate that 30% of the variance in teacher candidates' initial TExES PPR scores can be explained by the initial scores on the THEA reading exam.
Therefore, the authors argue that teacher candidates' success on the standardized teacher certification exams is, in part, a measure of their reading and analytical skills.

The findings also reveal that nearly 90% of the teacher candidates achieving a score of 250 to 259 on their first THEA Reading test attempt passed the TExES PPR the first time they took the test.
Furthermore, of the four teacher candidates that needed three tries to reach the 250 to 259 range on the THEA Reading test, all four passed the teacher certification exam on their first attempt.

The authors claim based on the results of this study, that the colleges of education in Texas could still maintain a very high pass rate on the exiting licensure exam (TExES PPR) even if they dropped the required score on the THEA Reading exam below 260.

The authors also report that the results of this study led the chair of the Department of Teacher Education at south Texas university to propose and implement a new policy lowering the required THEA Reading score to 250.

Prior to requiring a reading score of 250 in 2006, 92.4% of the teacher candidates passed the TExES PPR.
Yet, even after lowering the required THEA Reading score to 250, TExES PPR pass rates for this university have remained above 90%.
During the most recent 2009 reporting year, 90.7% of the PPR test takers were successful.

Therefore, the authors conclude that lowering the required score from 260 to 250 was beneficial for the potential teacher education candidates and in no way compromised the integrity of the university or its teacher education program.

Updated: Jan. 16, 2013