PED Ends Requirement For Costly Tests For New Teachers


The Public Education Department is changing the way new teachers prove their fitness for the classroom, moving from a battery of expensive tests to a comprehensive portfolio students will prepare during their New Mexico’s college-based educator preparation programs. 

Until now, college graduates had to pass six tests, together costing about $700 and taking more than 11 hours to complete, in order to earn an elementary education teaching license. By spring 2024, only one test will be required for that license – Teaching of Reading: Elementary, which is required by statute.

“We are happy to announce this change during Teacher Appreciation Week because New Mexico and the rest of the country have a chronic teacher shortage,” Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said. “It’s not unreasonable to think these expenses could deter a new college graduate from pursuing a career in education when our goal is to do the opposite, to encourage more students to consider this pathway. Portfolios provide a deeper demonstration of a graduate’s teaching ability than a test, so this move lets us help our teachers while ensuring or even improving the rigor of the process.”

“As New Mexico continues to face a workforce crisis within education, it is important to implement multifaceted, evidence-based strategies that address the range of obstacles to recruiting and retaining highly qualified educators,” Deputy Secretary Gwen Perea Warniment said.

The changes align with the state’s commitment to diversify the educator workforce to more closely resemble the student population as recommended in the court ruling in the Martinez-Yazzie Consolidated lawsuit.

“By adopting this portfolio process, we are acknowledging past systemic failures to address the historic inequities within educational institutions not just for students, but the adults who serve them. These changes will be accompanied by rigorous standards to ensure that educator preparation programs not only uphold excellent teacher competencies but are aligned with best practices to serve student groups identified in the lawsuit,” Warniment said.

The Public Education Department issues teaching licenses for seven grade-level and specialty groups, from Pre-K through high school and special education. Each license has its own testing requirements. Here, for example, are the tests required for an elementary education license:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics 
  • Principles of Learning and Teaching: Grades K-6
  • Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  • Teaching Reading: Elementary

The change to portfolio-based assessments will be phased in. By July 1, approved New Mexico educator preparation programs (see list at end of release) will adopt a standardized portfolio. The Public Education Department will work with the educator preparation programs to develop a standard rubric the programs will use to evaluate portfolios for licensure purposes.

Students currently enrolled in traditional or alternative educator preparation programs in New Mexico and graduating between now and December will not have to take the three Core Academic Skills tests. They still will have to pass all other Praxis exams for the license they are seeking. For example, an elementary license will require two tests: Principles of Learning and Teaching: K-6 and Elementary Education: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.

Educators graduating in spring 2024 whose portfolios are accepted by their program will no longer be required to take any of the Praxis tests except elementary educators will still have to pass the $90 Teaching of Reading: Elementary.

New Mexico has used the private Praxis testing service since 2020 to determine a graduate’s eligibility for educator licensing. Depending on the license sought, prospective teachers must take at least four and as many as six Praxis tests. The company sets testing fees, which range from $90 each for tests of core skills in reading, writing and math to $130 for foreign language tests.

The decision to end the testing requirement was proposed and considered by the Professional Practices and Standards Council, an advisory body whose members include teacher preparation experts at New Mexico higher education institutions and within the Public Education Department.

“They said a portfolio assessment would actually be more robust than a series of tests, and we agreed with that,” Warniment told the Legislative Education Study Committee last week. “Tests can be limiting and may not speak to the actual work teachers do. We think a portfolio process is more relevant to what happens in the classroom.”

The portfolio assessment is an option, not a requirement. Praxis tests still will be available to those who prefer that pathway, for educators who graduate from out-of-state teacher preparation programs, and for current teachers seeking additional endorsements, which allow them to teach more classes or grades.

  • The Public Education Department’s Licensure Bureau has prepared this FAQ document to respond to questions about the updated Praxis requirements.
  • Additionally, this memo details how the decision was made.
  • Following are the approved educator preparation programs in New Mexico:
    • Central New Mexico Community College – Albuquerque
    • Cooperative Educational Services – Albuquerque
    • Eastern New Mexico University – Portales
    • New Mexico Junior College – Hobbs
    • New Mexico Highlands University – Las Vegas and Rio Rancho
    • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology – Socorro
    • New Mexico State University – Las Cruces 
    • Northern New Mexico College – Española
    • San Juan College – Farmington
    • Santa Fe Community College – Santa Fe
    • University of New Mexico – Albuquerque
    • University of the Southwest – Hobbs
    • Western New Mexico University – Silver City