Kindergarteners work together during a reading intervention session Wednesday, January 23, 2019 in Katie Hoiland's kindergarten classroom at Aragon Elementary in Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8. (Mark Reis, Special to The Colorado Sun)

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Some prospective Colorado teachers soon could be required to take a new, more rigorous test on reading instruction to earn their state teaching licenses.

The State Board of Education will decide Wednesday whether to adopt the new exam, called the Praxis 5205, for elementary, early childhood, and special education candidates seeking teaching licenses. If approved, the requirement would take effect Sept. 1, though teacher candidates will still be allowed to take the existing licensure exam for another year.

The shift to a test that demands more knowledge about reading instruction from prospective teachers would align with the state’s ongoing push to boost reading proficiency rates among Colorado students. But some university officials worry that raising the bar for licensure — and the price of exams — could make it harder for candidates from underrepresented groups to become teachers.

Around 20 states already require teacher candidates to take in-depth exams on reading instruction, according to a report from the National Center for Teacher Quality. The exams range from the Praxis 5205, which is put out by the Educational Testing Service, to various tests put out by Pearson.

In recent years, Colorado officials have stepped up oversight of how the state’s teacher preparation programs train future educators to teach reading. This new exam could spur additional changes as prep programs work to ensure their graduates can pass the test.

Currently, Colorado elementary and special education teacher candidates take an elementary licensure test that includes subtests on reading, math, science and social studies. If the new test is adopted, it would replace the reading subtest.


Ann Schimke is a senior reporter at Chalkbeat Colorado covering early childhood education. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and the Denver Post. She holds a master’s degree in education policy from the University...