- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Almost half of aspiring math teachers in South Dakota are flunking a required certification exam, and education leaders are pondering whether the test is too hard.

South Dakota public school teachers must pass content-specific tests for particular subjects such as math to be certified to teach. The abysmal passage rate started a couple of years ago when the certification exams and scoring requirements were updated, the Argus Leader reported (https://argusne.ws/1BN4KYY ).

With schools struggling to find enough teachers, state officials are considering lowering the required score for math teachers. The State Board of Education is to discuss the matter at its May 18 meeting in Aberdeen.

“Nobody wants to lower the bar,” President Don Kirkegaard said. “We just want to make sure we have a realistic bar.”

South Dakota uses tests created by the North Carolina-based nonprofit Educational Testing Service. Thirty-five other states use the same service to measure a teacher’s worth in high school-level math. Teachers in South Dakota must score at least 160 points out of a possible 200 to pass. Most states have the same requirement, though three states have a lower threshold - 134 in Iowa, 145 in Alabama and 152 in Kansas.

Schools across South Dakota that responded to a School Administrators of South Dakota survey reported single-digit candidate pools for teaching jobs this school year, with many districts saying math teachers were the hardest to find.

The School Administrators of South Dakota asked the state Department of Education to investigate.

“We’re running our own people out-of-state because the score’s too high,” group Executive Director Rob Monson said. “Can we look at doing something about this?”

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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