Praxis exams demonstrate knowledge of subject matter

Re: “The Praxis Exams – Are They a Fair Requirement for Teacher Licensure?” by Kynise Morris published in the May 2021 edition of the NJEA Review

While I agree that Ms. Morris experienced an extraordinary difficulty in passing her Praxis exams, her diagnosis of dyscalculia explains that difficulty. I wish her the best as she pursues her license via Alternate Route. Her experience, however, does not negate the need for Praxis exams. Demonstrating content knowledge is one of the keys to effective teaching.

Ms. Morris states, “There is a risk of losing excellent future teachers for a test that is not about pedagogy.” Granting teachers licenses to teach without demonstrating content knowledge risks allowing teachers into classrooms who don’t adequately know their subjects. Pedagogy is but one aspect of teaching; it doesn’t trump knowing one’s subject matter. Think of Praxis as akin to the Bar exam or Board certifications for physicians. They are a measurement of preparedness and qualification.

Credit Praxis exams for being partly responsible for New Jersey’s public schools ranking so high nationally in delivering quality education. Contrary to Morris’s statement that the Praxis exams don’t “demonstrate the knowledge necessary to teach students,” they do just that. As a parent, I want educators in the classroom who’ve mastered the material they are teaching. As an educator, Praxis exams confirm my belief that I know my subjects. Teachers should be as proud of their subject mastery as they are of being versed in pedagogy. Pedagogy is the means by which we impart knowledge and fuel passions. If teachers lack the knowledge to begin with, the pedagogy is for naught.

Keeping the rigorous standards of Praxis ensures licensing teachers who bring measured value to the classroom. To lower the bar by eliminating Praxis or reducing its rigor is to risk reducing the high quality of N.J.’s public schools.

Sincerely,

Anita Soja
English Department
Kearny High School

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