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Special education teachers feel impact of new bill

9:17 PM, Jan 7, 2013   |    comments
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State Representative-Elect Gloria Johnson, (D) District 13, will ask lawmakers for an extension on a teacher reform bill.

Hundreds of educators in Tennessee will not be able to teach classes this year unless they passed their Praxis exams.

State legislators approved a bill last year, requiring all teachers to take Praxis exams in order to teach certain subjects.

The bill went into effect on January 1.

Teachers only have to take Praxis tests for subjects they teach in which there is a state level, End of Course exam.

Knox County Schools teachers were already required to take these, but now special education teachers are affected by the bill.

"We have several of our teachers who have taken it and passed the Praxis and in the situations where we are still working towards passing the Praxis, we've made adjustments to schedules so that we have a properly endorsed teacher in every classroom," said Melissa Massey, with Knox County Schools.

According to Massey, 107 special education teachers in Knox County were required to take the Praxis; 74 teachers passed their exams.

10 special education teachers are scheduled to take the Praxis for the first time this month while 17 are working toward retaking it.

"It has not resulted in us increasing our case loads of classes for students overall," Massey said.

State Representative-Elect Gloria Johnson, (D) District 13, teaches special education.

"All the classes that I generally teach... all those have Praxis tests that I have not taken because I've been teaching for 25 years," Johnson explained.

She plans to ask lawmakers for an extension, giving teachers more time to pass the tests.

"It's really going to affect our kids and especially those kids who struggle and need that extra help," Johnson said.

Johnson also is looking into some financial relief for teachers; each test cost about $150.

The legislative session starts January 7 in Nashville.

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