Qualifying Exam & Advancement to Candidacy

The Qualifying Examination

Eligible students are required to apply for the Qualifying Exam by completing CODEL Form 2 Part I to the CODEL office 30 days prior to the exam date. The qualifying examination will be scenario-based questions related to material covered during the Core Courses. Two scenarios, one PreK-12 and Higher Ed, will be developed by the program director (or designee) and sent to each faculty member who taught a Core course so they can develop the question using the scenario. Each faculty member teaching a Core course will develop one question pertaining to his/her course material related to each scenario (a total of two questions) and a scoring rubric outlining what is acceptable in a student response.

The questions written to address P-12 and HE scenarios will generally be the same for each scenario, written to address the specific context of the scenario. Students will be given a study guide at the end of each core course so they can begin to study for the exam. Core faculty has the discretion to decide the format of their core course study guide. The director(s) (or designee) will randomly select three questions for each student to be addressed during the four-hour testing time. These questions will be given to the student at the time of the exam. Students will address the questions in depth, based on their core course materials.

Detailed information on Qualifying Examination administration protocol will be provided for students 30 days prior to the exam.

An ad-hoc Qualifying Examination Committee will be appointed each year and the Director (or designee) will select the questions, administer the exam, select the exam readers and also read and score some of the qualifying examinations (as appropriate). The faculty whose question was given during the exam will be assigned as first score reviewer. Another core faculty member who is familiar with the subject area will be the second reviewer. All exams are graded blindly by faculty.

If there is a significant difference between the two readers, a third reader will be asked to read the paper. The two most similar scores will be used for that paper.

Students will be given two opportunities to pass the Qualifying Exam. If a student fails the first exam, they will be tested on a new question(s) from the same content area(s) in which he/she did not pass. The question(s) will not be made available to the student prior to the examination date. The re-examination will be administered similar to the first examination (see QE section in this Handbook). The re-examination must be taken within 30 days of the first exam, unless otherwise approved by the program director. Exam time will be retroactive depending on the number of retake questions, for example if the student only needs to retake one question they will be give one hour and fifteen minutes to answer the question. It is highly recommended that any student needing to retake any part of the Qualifying Exam set up a meeting with the instructor for the content area not passed to gain a better understanding of the content before the re-examination.

If the student does not pass the examination after the second attempt, the student will be dismissed from the program and not permitted to take additional courses. Students who wish to appeal the decision made on their Qualifying Examination must use the university process for grade appeals as described in the University catalog for Fresno State.

Advancement to Candidacy

When the student has passed the Qualifying Exam and completed the selection of the dissertation committee, the student will fill out CODEL Form 4 [Application for Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Education, Educational Leadership] and submit this form to the Director for approval. The Dean of Graduate Studies at Fresno State gives final approval of the advancement to candidacy application.