FTCE Testing Standards Rise in Florida -- And Educational Experts Are Concerned

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As the Florida Teacher Certification Examinations release tougher tests, educational researchers are concerned about the outlook for the Critical Teacher Shortage Program

There's a discrepancy between what future teachers are being tested on and what they are going to teach in the classroom

The state of Florida has been dealing with a severe teaching shortage for over a decade - and now that the FTCE test is raising the difficulty level, educational researchers and future teachers alike are concerned that this will only exasperate the state-wide problem.

While many educational experts argue that the increasing difficulty of the FTCE test is a good thing, others are highlighting that the State Board of Education should be focusing on more critical issues, including the fate the of Critical Teacher Shortage Program. As Florida has been experiencing a severe teacher shortage in subject areas such as mathematics, science, foreign language and special education, the FTCE test represents a necessary part of the teaching crisis solution. Yet critics of the new FTCE test are concerned that future teachers won't be able to catch up for months - and that's precious time that the State Board of Education just can't afford.

Educational Researchers Question The State Board's Solutions

"While the FTCE test is can significantly change over the course of a year, test takers are left in the dark because they're not provided with the supplemental material they need to proficiently prepare for the FTCE," says Regina Ellis, an educational researcher with Southwest Florida Research and Education Center. "At this point, the State Board of Education should focus more on certifying qualified individuals to address the needs of the Critical Teacher Shortage Program."

Since the FTCE is a content-driven exam - as opposed to more traditional aptitude-based exams - the increasing difficulty of the FTCE test means that test takers will be tested on more obscure facts, figures, formulas and important dates.

"There's a discrepancy between what future teachers are being tested on and what they are going to teach in the classroom," says Ellis. "This is in no way an answer to Florida's teaching shortage. Instead, we need high-quality FTCE testing material that will help future teachers to get their teaching certification faster, instead of having to retake the test year after year."

Better Test Prep = The End To The Critical Teacher Shortage Program?

While the main goal of the State Board of Education is to end the teaching shortage by providing tuition assistance and loan forgiveness for teachers who take up posts in critical areas, educational experts like Ellis believe that a more holistic approach - one that addresses everything from better FTCE test prep material to more tuition assistance for low-income test takers - will finally put an end to the crippling teacher shortage.

"The state of Florida needs to make a commitment to future teachers from the very beginning of their journey," says Ellis.

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