What’s Old Is New! Education’s Cheap Dates

For everyone seduced and exhilarated by this “new” idea of a bar exam for teachers, well, it’s been around for a while inside and outside of education circles…in fact, here’s none other than American Federation of Teachers President Al Shanker talking about it in 1985…He also talks about a few other perennial or long stalled ideas…

6 Replies to “What’s Old Is New! Education’s Cheap Dates”

  1. Shanker had a lot of good ideas — he’s my favorite American thinker on education — but one has to wonder about the costs associated with this suggestion. College costs are so much higher now than they were in 1985 that one wonders if this is still a viable idea. Doctors and lawyers, and more specifically their professional school educations and closed shop cartels, cost other Americans enormous sums; they are a gigantic drag on our economy, a huge burden to our national competitiveness since their fees eat up so much more of their fellow citizens’ incomes here than in any other economy. I’m not sure it occurred to Ms. Weingarten, a lawyer by training, to question whether Americans really want to pay for another high priced profession, especially one requiring as many practitioners as teaching does.

  2. We already have the equivalent of the “bar” exam for teachers. They are
    called licensure tests. Every state must give them and report annually to the federal government, under a provision in Title II of HEA. The problem is that most of the licensure tests for prospective teachers are at the middle school to high school level. And the USDE has shown no interest in upgrading the current tests (produced chiefly by two major testing companies–ETS and Pearson. ABCTE also offers licensure tests.)
    Anyone who doesn’t know about the current tests should.
    Sandra Stotsky

  3. The people who are “seduced” by the idea of a bar exam for teachers should look at the licensure tests now required in every state.

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  5. “The problem is that most of the licensure tests for prospective teachers are at the middle school to high school level.”

    This is untrue in California, and I suspect in most other states as well. You really need to stop lumping “teachers” together. California has an elementary school licensure test in all subjects that is about the tenth grade level which is, frankly, entirely adequate for elementary school teachers.

    The high school level tests are are at the college level in math, history, and English–again, in California,and probably in most other states. I know this because I’ve taken and aced all but the calculus test, which I passed with the equivalent of a C+ or thereabouts.

    The fail rates on the California licensure tests are extremely high for blacks and Hispanics, and at about 20% for whites and Asians, which again suggests that they are appropriately difficult. The ETS tracks SAT scores for 20 states and DCs, as well as pass rates. The average SAT math score for a secondary school math teacher is 590, which is about the same as English and history teachers score on the SAT, suggesting that in these 20 states at least, the teachers are being pulled from the top half of the distribution (from about 55-85%ile). The Praxis II tests can’t be simple or the average SAT score would be much lower.

    Of course, it’s worth remembering that no research has even demonstrated a convincing and consistent link between teacher cognitive ability and student outcomes, which suggests that whatever basement we have is adequate for the situation.

    But hey, why let facts get in your way? It’s much more fun to endlessly repeat ad nauseum that teachers are stupid.

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