RI raises bar for new teachers

Rhode Island is raising the bar to get into teacher training, reports the  Providence Journal.

Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist told state colleges and universities to increase the minimum score on a basic skills test required to enter teacher training.

Currently, Rhode Island ranks among the lowest in the nation, alongside Mississippi and Guam, with cut scores in math, reading and writing set at 170 in each subject. At that score, about 30 percent of test-takers in Rhode Island fail the test, called Praxis I or the PPST, pre-professional skills test.

Gist wants to raise the scores to the highest in the country over a two-year period. Teacher-training programs fear a sharp drop in students.

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  1. “Teacher-training programs fear a sharp drop in students.”

    Now that’s funny.

  2. Many good teachers aren’t highly educated.

    I’m not sure raising the bar is a good thing.

  3. I know that one study doesn’t prove anything, but I think there was one a few years ago–maybe Joanne even posted about it here?–that found that the countries with the best track records in education had ed schools that had very few spaces available and were tough to get into (as opposed, I believe, to those that just paid teachers a lot more).

  4. Robert you should take the Praxis I. If you saw how easy the test is, I don’t think you would disagree with raising the bar.

  5. I’ve never met a *good* teacher who couldn’t ace the Praxis I. Praxis II is much more difficult but the Praxis I contains questions like “In the number 0.1283, which digit is in the thousandths place?”

    All this will do is to keep the total morons out.

  6. I think that raising the bar for teachers is one thing we can do to move in the right direction. Paying teachers a lot more in the long run might help make schools of education more competitive, but it will take a few years (as will most decent, lasting reforms).

    As for the Praxis I/PPST, my university had a “do not admit” policy if a student failed it three times. That was a great idea. I have met people who failed it three times and they certainly should not be in the classroom. It’s really meant to weed out the most absurd candidates from teacher-ed programs. As much as I want more people going through those programs so as to enlarge the pool of teachers, create competition for jobs and hopefully improve teacher quality, that doesn’t mean we should let just anyone into the nation’s schools of education.

  7. I love being a teacher. It is rewarding in a way that many professions can not be. I also have an amazing amount of time off that other professions can not match. If prospective teachers decide not to be teachers because it just got a little bit harder to get into teaching school, then good riddance. However, the numbers won’t go down. I would wager good cold cash on that!

  8. Crazy Whack Degrees says:

    If they raised the standards high enough, it would, over time, change the average quality of people with which prospective teachers had to work.

    That would be a draw of its own, and might even convince me to come down to the high school level.

    I don’t see it happening, though.

  9. The article mentions in passing the real reason they are resisting the increase: every test score increase results in plummeting minority teacher enrollments–and in state universities, teaching is the top moneymaker based in large part on minority admits.

    The CSU campuses that depend on minority enrollments have seen a huge decrease in teacher candidates based almost entirely on the required MSUB test.

  10. As it is, according to the article, students who score well on the SAT, ACT, or GRE exams are exempt from the basic skills test. “Gist wants those scores to increase as well. For example, starting in the fall of 2010, prospective teachers must score 1,100 combined verbal and math on the SAT and 1,150 starting in 2011 to avoid taking the Praxis I.”

    1,100 V + M on the SAT is mildly above average in the field of students who take the SAT. I’d assume that anyone who could opt out of the Praxis I would opt out. Thus, the field of test takers runs from students who scored around the average on the SAT — on down.

    I know many teachers whom I greatly respect. As teaching is an academic profession, there should be an absolute floor to the academic performance required of prospective teachers. Over the long term, this will do more than anything else to increase the respect granted to teachers.

    By the way, those who claim that teaching is a profession love to compare teachers to doctors, lawyers, and MBAs. All of those professions require high scores on their entrance exams. There may be some exceptional doctors and lawyers who barely scraped by on their exams, but they’re the exception, not the rule, in their professions.


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