Last October, we wrote about the exorbitant cost of obtaining a Reading Endorsement to meet the requirements of teaching the primary grades under Ohio’s Third Grade Guarantee law. At the time, we projected the cost to be over $17,000. That figure may have dropped a bit as universities have been scrambling to find a way to address the thousands of panicked teachers seeking to obtain the endorsement, but will still cost thousands of unnecessary dollars.
We have a message for those panicked teachers: Stop it.
Senate Bill 21 has moved on to the Ohio House with another, significantly less-expensive, alternative added in — a standardized test for teachers to prove competency in teaching reading. It is fair to assume that this test will be similar, if not identical, to the test teachers will be required to pass after completing the reading endorsement coursework, though with the bill still in the legislature’s hands, ODE has not begun to act on the new provision.
Until September, that test is a Reading Praxis II test (Code 5204) that costs a mere $139 to take, much less than the thousands of dollars one would pay for the endorsement ON TOP OF the test. Merely passing the test would qualify the teacher to be the reading teacher under the new provision currently in SB 21. In September, the state is switching from the ETS-owned Praxis tests to new Ohio tests created by another education-testing conglomerate — Pearson. While costs are not yet available, it appears that the new required test for teachers will have two components, and we might project that to mean two tests, instead of the one. If our educated guess is correct, teachers would have to pay around twice the current amount — approximately $278 for the two tests.
You don’t need to be a mathematician or economist to understand that $278 is less than $17,000. We also need only do a quick internet search to find plenty of test-prep materials for the current Praxis test. Putting these together leads us to calculate that a teacher can take the test numerous times (61 or so if fees stay as predicted), allowing for studying and repeated retests, until a passing score is achieved at the same cost as paying for a reading endorsement (which doesn’t guarantee that you’ll pass the test either). And let’s be honest, if you can’t study and pass this test after 2 or 3 tries as an existing teacher with many reading courses on your transcripts already, perhaps you should consider teaching something other than reading anyway.
At any rate, the irony of meeting the minimum score on a standardized test to demonstrate proficiency for a state-mandated process shouldn’t be lost on any of us. And certainly don’t pay thousands of dollars in a panic just to get an endorsement that you won’t be needing once the House adopts SB 21.
Not that taking continuing education graduate courses is a bad thing, but I don’t know many teachers with an extra $17,000 laying around.