How grassroots efforts are trying to solve the Miss. teacher shortage crisis

February 28, 2019 | The Hechinger Report/Mississippi Today

Cleveland native Toni McWilliams didn’t feel like she was putting her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration to good use working as an administrative secretary for a middle school in her hometown. The job, which paid around $19,000, barely brought in enough money to support her two young daughters. So McWilliams decided to try teaching. “My mom had always encouraged me to teach,” she said.

But there was one big obstacle standing in the way: the Praxis exams. Consisting of four to five different tests, Praxis exams measure would-be teachers’ content knowledge in subjects that include math and reading.

When McWilliams first took the Praxis in March of 2015, she easily passed the reading portion but failed the math and writing sections. On her next try, she passed writing, but still failed math.

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