Dean makes changes to improve passage rate

YSU's teacher exam passage rate is 12th among 13 state-supported schools.
& lt;a & gt;By JoANNE VIVIANO & lt;/a & gt;
YOUNGSTOWN -- Potential teachers facing the new teacher licensing exams don't quite realize how difficult the tests can be.
They ignore the study courses set up to help them achieve higher scores, and they fail. That's what has happened in past years at Youngstown State University's Beeghly College of Education, said Dr. Philip Ginnetti, dean of the college.
The Ohio Board of Regents released a higher education performance report Thursday that showed YSU students lagging behind most other state-supported universities when it comes to passing teacher licensing exams.
Ginnetti, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at YSU, and his staff have come up with a plan to change that.
"I have a huge commitment to this place," he said. "I am the strongest advocate of this college. I just want us to keep growing and doing well."
Ginnetti is not the only one who is fond of the College of Education. Local school boards and superintendents have hired the bulk of their teaching staffs from the college's ranks.
Ginnetti said that 86 percent of teachers in Mahoning County schools and 74 percent in Trumbull County schools were hired from YSU.
According to the regents' report, 80 percent of YSU students who took Praxis II teacher licensing exams in the 2002 academic year passed the exams. The rate places YSU 12th among 13 state-supported universities. In 2001-2002, 84 percent of YSU test takers passed the exams.
Among changes made in the college are:
UAdministrators have raised the criteria for admission to the College of Education in a student's junior year. While a 2.5 grade point average was once the cutoff, students now must have a 3.0 grade point average or have a 2.67 GPA accompanied by a strong performance on the Praxis I basic skills test. (Praxis I is used by some education college as an admission requirement; YSU students with GPAs of 3.0 or higher are not required to take it.)
UStarting this school year, a Praxis III study guide is included among the required textbooks for a course that all teacher candidates must complete before their junior year. The college also has bought study guides that are available for student use in the college's library.
UFaculty members are working to determine ways to weave assessments similar to those on the Praxis II exams into other required courses.
UBeginning this school year, the college offers information sessions that include a study packet for students and are offered prior to all Praxis II test dates. The program was developed with consultants from the University of Akron, where 90 percent of teacher candidates passed the Praxis exams in 2002.
State requirements
Passage of the Praxis II exams is required in Ohio before a teacher is granted a license and considered a "highly qualified" teacher. Ginnetti said Ohio's passage score that is one of the highest in the nation.
The state requires passage by all new teachers; YSU requires students to pass before they can complete their student teaching requirement in a local school district.
"We don't want to place a student out there that isn't highly qualified," Ginnetti said, adding that he majority of students do pass and roughly 200 YSU students are teaching in classrooms this semester.
Teachers who pass the Praxis II exams are granted a two-year temporary permit and can begin teaching, Ginnetti explained. Before its expiration they must pass a Praxis III exam that involves an evaluator's visiting their classrooms. Of YSU grads who were hired by schools last year and have taken this third exam, 100 percent have passed, he said.
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