In a divided vote, the Indiana State Board of Education today voted 7-3 to make it a bit easier for aspiring teachers to earn a passing score on five different exams required to earn licenses.

Like last month, some board members took issue with proposed changes to teacher license tests that allow more teacher candidates to pass. In some cases, the expected pass rate will rise from 24 percent passing of those who take the test to 80 percent passing. This process of setting “cut scores” is very similar to the one used to set the cut-off scores for students to pass state ISTEP tests.

Risa Regnier, assistant superintendent with the department of education, said the online public comment responses to the changes that have been received since the board gave its initial go-ahead last month were positive. But board members Vince Bertram and David Freitas were concerned that the cut-off scores could be adjusted so easily. They asked if that could compromise the quality of teachers in the classroom.

“The public perception is that we are rigging the system,” Freitas said.

But Regnier said this kind of adjustment to the passing score is typical, especially for new tests that are built to better align to new standards for teacher preparation.

“We’re not saying that there is anything wrong with the test,” she said. “We have a combination of things that really give us an opportunity to do some reviews as a part of ongoing monitoring to ensure that all of those things are fitting together properly.”

Board member Gordon Hendry, Freitas and Bertram voted against lowering the passing scores.

The board also voted 9-1 to approve criteria for the state’s test that determines whether students need extra help in passing end-of-course exams and 10-0 on small changes to data collection on discipline.