Friday, January 4, 2013

Are Teachers Prepared? A New Test Could Be the Way to Find Out

For many occupations, there is at least one overarching test that gives aspiring professionals the credentials to work in their respective fields. No matter the level of education received, if a lawyer doesn’t pass the bar exam, he cannot practice law.

In December, CNN published an article that discussed a report advocating an entry exam for all teacher candidates, like the bar exam taken by aspiring lawyers, issued by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

The AFT report, titled “Raising the Bar: Aligning and Elevating Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession,” included a statement by AFT president Randi Weingarten:

“We must do away with a common rite of passage, whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they (and their students) sink or swim. Such a haphazard approach to the complex and crucial enterprise of educating children is wholly inadequate. It’s unfair to both students and teachers, who want and need to be well prepared to teach from their first day on the job. At a time when we are raising the standards for students through the Common Core State Standards, we must do the same for teachers.”

The report recommends that the exam be multidimensional and include subject knowledge as well as pedagogical knowledge. In other words, in addition to having to know the subject they teach, teachers would have to demonstrate that they had the qualities to be “caring, competent and confident.”

The test, which would be required of all future teachers nationwide, would be given to candidates regardless of whether they enter the profession through traditional means or “an alternative route.”

What do you think? If an exam like this were to exist, would it make a major impact on the preparedness of teachers in classrooms?

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