No, but principals, chancellors and mayors with control of school systems should.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his 2013 State of the State address to announce plans for a “bar exam” that all new teachers would have to pass to get a job in the state.
It was one of several education initiatives he outlined but it was one which is gaining national support, and doesn't come with a high price tag. The national teachers' union is behind it as are local proponents for stronger teacher training programs.
What do you think? Should teachers have to take a standardized certification exam in order to teach in the classroom? Share your thoughts.
A BAR exam for teachers seems pointless. What would the questions be about? There is no test that can simulate the challenge of engaging an overcrowded and underfunded room of teenagers and being expected to teach all 35 of them as unique individuals simultaneously. What needs to happen is that university programs that "prepare" people for careers as teachers should be designed and taught by people who can actually teach. The police academy, the fire academy, they all function this way. I had some brilliant and knowledgable professors during my college years, but I would be willing to bet that few, if any of them could manage teaching in a NYC public junior high school. You can read all of the scholarly journals you like, know your "content area" we'll enough to win on Jeopardy, but none of that will prepare you for what it takes to succeed, or even to survive as a teacher in this city. I find it interesting that these politicians dump all over teachers and the work that they do and then demand tougher requirements to enter the field. Do you really think you can attract the "best and the brightest" by treating teachers in such a disrespectful and horrible manner. I bet the halls of the Ivy League are overflowing with valedictorian candidates who can't wait to come to the Bronx and be told they're doing a terrible job an fired if their students don't reach an arbitrary number on some standardized test. Who cares about all the other problems in the world? If the kids don't do we'll, blame the teachers.
Bar exam idea is yet one more needless certification hurdle. NYS is already going to add a content specialty exam and, for years, there have been College Board and other standardized tests for certification. If this adds a measure of public confidence, OK, but it's of no substantive worth. Even the real Bar Exam is a joke: everyone takes a pricey test prep course marketed explicitly for "glib understanding" for the test alone, with no lasting value. Purely an exercise in short term memorization.
My wife is a second grade teacher in a small town. The teachers here are being pummeled with ever changing and increasing requirements, while enduring ever shrinking budgets. Those who can are quitting or retiring. Those who are doing relatively better are the ones who practice "skill and drill". so their kids will do well on the ever increasing battery of tests that they are subjected to. The kids are suffering form this national mania to "increase performance", because they are being taught to the test. My wife has tried to buck the trend by teaching interesting subjects, but gets no recognition for her efforts. She has taught special segments on whales, polar bears, Martin Luther King, and Squanto in the past year. The "performance awards" went to the teachers who teach skill/drill.
I recently heard about the idea for a "bar exam" for teachers. My first thought: Great!, maybe the next step will be to increase their starting salaries from, say, $38,000 to 120,000 per year!!!
Where is the outrage in this country about how our teachers are being treated!?
It's an unpopular thing to say, but what if they could actually streamline the certification process starting with teacher education programs in college and grad school, teaching more than simple theory and more actual necessity for in-classroom readiness? Then in lieu of the 3 (2 of which are absolutely pointness and culturally skewed) exams NY teachers are required to take, there is one "bar exam" that is required for teachers in every state (based on a common core set of standards like the National Board Certification standards or Danielson) to pass. This way, as a country we can agree on what teachers are supposed to know before they step into a classroom and we can better prepare teachers for success inside the classroom.
Or maybe a portfolio based assessment that requires teachers within 5 years to go through a rigorous process showing mastery?
I'm not sure why a bar exam is so insulting unless we feel we wouldn't be able to pass it. What if teachers had a hand in creating it?
Overall, I feel like we are fighting about the wrong issues. It's exhausting.
I just don't think that MORE testing is going to solve any of the problems in our schools. Again, show me a written test that can identify one's ability to engage and educate a room full of teenagers or 8 year olds. Nothing will ever get better if we don't address the real issues. It's not a coincidence that schools in the suburbs do much better than those in high poverty areas. They don't have better teachers.
In order for one to serve as an administrator in New Jersey he/she must pass a state certification exam. Therefore, the proposal is a moot point. Additionally, I would like to point out that earning a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership is quite sufficient.
For the record, public school teachers for decades have had to take national exams as well as other exams depending on the state, and/or city requirements in order to teach. In addition to my degrees obtained, and numerous exams taken, I also have to complete 180 hours of additional education training every several years. To teach at the college level I only had to show my degrees and my expertise was acknowledged. To teach at the high school level we are continuously having to prove ourselves.
Great piece, Tim. It's remarkable how many people come up with sure-fire solutions to problems that don't actually exist. I'm certain if such folks turned their attention to real problems, they wouldn't solve them either. Of course that wouldn't matter, because they could always blame working teachers.
Is anyone familiar with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards? What you describe as a bar exam is quite close to this exam, which by the way, Pearson owns. Danielson created her framework using the NBPTS framework.
I see Pearson in the picture creating this new credentialing as a new enormous cash cow.
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