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Smart List: 60 People Shaping the Future of K-12 Education
11 Replies to “Like A Bad Penny…”
So that means that most of the people who took the test won’t become teachers. IOW, the test weeded them out. I doubt that any of them were planning to become math teachers anyway, and I’m certain that the math level was way beyond elementary school. It would be interesting to see how the general public does on this test.
Loren, I think you’re missing the point. The reason this test was put in place was because elementary school teachers don’t have enough math knowledge to feel comfortable with the subject, and yet they are responsible for teaching the material. As a result, they shy away from it and another cohort of kids arrives in middle schools with sub-par math skills. I teach middle school math, but my MA teaching test asked questions that went up through calculus. And it should be this way, since you need to know more than just the level at which you are teaching. It’s for exactly this reason that I don’t teach HS, since my math knowledge doesn’t go much beyond that level.
Loren, you can view a sample test here.
Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents , said “The high failure rate puts a shining light on a deficiency in teacher-prep programs.”
I think Tom is missing the point that the schools aren’t preparing kids for college and that the colleges aren’t preparing students for the teacher prep programs.
Could you imagine what would happen if it became hard to be a teacher? Would the pay change to reflect a profession that has high standards?
I wonder if teachers could choose to simply take the Grade 6 MCAS and, if they could score Advanced, that would suffice.
The point of my post was in the first 2 sentences. As a result of this test, 127 candidates are closer to certification, while 473 have been set back. The test is preventing them from being teachers. The teacher in the classroom is not one of the 473. The only valid conclusion that can be drawn is that they were poorly prepared for the test. The test was not designed to diagnose the cause of poor performance. It is probably more a result of our entire education system than just teacher prep programs.
While I agree with your point in theory, I’m quite certain that there is much more to teaching kindergarden math than a thorough knowledge of calculus. I would go so far as to say that most calculus professors shouldn’t be teaching kindergarden math. Is it not conceivable that the English and Social Studies teachers in my school could have great success preparing students for exams in their subject are while not being able to use geometry in their daily lives?
Would you say that a science teacher is unqualified if he/she hasn’t read Ulysses or Remembrance of Things Past?
Thanks for the link while I should be grading papers as my students are testing I am taking the MTEL test. 🙂
I agree that you don’t just need math understanding; you need pedagogy background as well. However, just having the pedagogy background isn’t enough.
Clearly a kindergarten teacher doesn’t need to have a thorough understanding of calc to be able to teach K math. But, I think they do need to have a solid understanding through at least 8th grade. It’s important that they are able to see where the kids are going down the road so that you techniques support rather than undermine later teachers. You’d be amazed at the rules that elementary teachers give to kids to memorize about math that are not true at higher levels (i.e. the larger number “goes in the house” (is the dividend) or when you multiply the numbers get bigger). A teacher who knows that these rules do not hold in later grades might be less prone to use them as mantras.
Also, this was a general ed test for K-6 teachers. Since most K-6 teachers in elementary school teach math at some point, it’s important that they can do the math. If they’re just teaching English, there’s a different test they could take.
I’m not particularly perturbed that these teachers have been set back in their quest to be teachers. They’re not ready yet, which is primarily their own fault for not preparing for the test.
I share Loren’s concern about keeping so many interested teachers out of the classroom, though I share Paul’s lack of sympathy for those who failed the test.
What strikes me is that these are people who want to be teachers, who took the time to prepare to be teachers, and who probably shelled out decent money to someone who claimed to be preparing them for the task. It is indeed the teacher prep programs that should be most embarrassed here.
I have yet to meet a teacher who has taken anything substantial from their education training. The one consistent benefit of traditional programs seems to be their ability to help graduates navigate the byzantine certification process. In this case, however, they failed to do even that.
I say keep the difficult tests and release the constraints on education programs. Given a battery of difficult tests, let’s let a teacher program sink or swim on it’s graduates’ ability to pass and succeed in the classroom.
The point of the test is to keep unqualified people out, so when people fail, the test works. Many people apply to Med School, but most don’t get in. That says less about their undergrad training than it says about the standards the Med School sets for admittance.
Furthermore, is there any way to know how many people who took the test actually had any ed training? Anyone can pay a fee and take a test.
I completely agree that the test SHOULD keep out the people who failed. I looked at a few questions on the sample test posted. This is not quantum physics. I don’t care if they teach Kindergarten or Calculus. Do we not stress to students that they should be well rounded learners? Following the “social studies teachers don’t need math” logic, they don’t need art, music, PE, etc. So by those standards, we’ll have a bunch of uncultured, out of shape people teaching our students. I teach art at the elementary level and when I help my kids with math or some other subject, the kids are amazed. It is this kind of attitude that fosters that reaction. We should be stressing that, while you don’t need to be an expert in all areas, you should have basic knowledge and be a well rounded student.