Ed­u­ca­tion:

Strin­gent process likened to the bar exam for lawyers.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Byjosh Lederman

School­teach­ers should have to pass a strin­gent exam — much like the barexam for lawyers — be­fore be­ing al­lowed to en­ter the pro­fes­sion, a large teach­ers union says.

WaSHINGTON — School­teach­ers should have to pass a strin­gent exam — much like the bar exam for lawyers — be­fore be­ing al­lowed to en­ter the pro­fes­sion, one of the na­tion’s largest teach­ers unions said Mon­day.

The Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers called for a tough new writ­ten test to be com­ple­mented by stricter en­trance re­quire­ments for teacher train­ing pro­grams, such as a min­i­mum grade point av­er­age.

“It’s time to do away with a com­mon rite of pas­sage into the teach­ing pro­fes­sion, 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,” said AFT Pres­i­dent Randi Wein­garten. She called that sys­tem un­fair to stu­dents and teach­ers alike.

The pro­posal, re­leased Mon­day as part of a broader report on el­e­vat­ing the teach­ing pro­fes­sion, calls for the Na­tional Board for Pro­fes­sional Teach­ing Stan­dards to take the lead in de­vel­op­ing a new test. The non­profit group cur­rently ad­min­is­ters the Na­tional Board Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram, an ad­vanced, vol­un­tary teach­ing cre­den­tial that goes be­yond state stan­dards.

There is no sin­gle, na­tional stan­dard for teacher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, although the fed­eral government does ask states to meet cer­tain cri­te­ria to be el­i­gi­ble for fed­eral fund­ing.

The pro­posal by a ma­jor teach­ers union to im­pose tougher re­quire­ments on its own mem­bers may sig­nal a shift in tone for a pro­fes­sion fac­ing height­ened scru­tiny. In re­cent years, unions such as AFT have re­sisted calls to end ten­ure and to tie teach­ers’ eval­u­a­tions to their stu­dents’ test scores.

But by em­brac­ing more rig­or­ous cer­ti­fi­ca­tion stan­dards, the union hopes to raise the sta­tus of the teach­ing pro­fes­sion, which could reap fu­ture re­wards when it comes to com­pen­sa­tion and other ben­e­fits.

In its report, AFT drew com­par­isons be­tween teach­ing and other pro­fes­sions that re­quire ad­vanced pro­fes­sional train­ing, such as medicine and law.

The pro­posal also calls for mak­ing en­trance into teacher ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams more com­pet­i­tive. Can­di­dates should be re­quired to have a min­i­mum 3.0 cu­mu­la­tive grade point av­er­age, the AFT said, in ad­di­tion to for­mal in­ter­views and 10 hours of field ex­pe­ri­ence.

“If you im­pose that kind of re­stric­tion, that means you’re sig­nal­ing to so­ci­ety at large that not ev­ery­body can be a teacher. You’re say­ing it’s hard to get in. It’s hard to be good,” said Arthur McKee of the Na­tional Coun­cil on Teacher Qual­ity, which sup­ports the pro­posal.

Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Arne Dun­can, too, com­mended the pro­posal, de­scrib­ing it as part of a broader push to raise the bar for teach­ers and en­able schools to pre­dict a teacher’s po­ten­tial for success in the class­room.

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