BUFFALO, N.Y. – New York college students pursuing a career in education will be required to take a “bar exam” to obtain their state teaching certification starting May 1, but education officials are considering conditional certifications for those who fail, as well.
Teaching students graduating from New York colleges after May 1 will be required to submit video and written evidence of their ability to lead a classroom in order to obtain a teaching certificate from the state, the Associated Press reports.
“The state Education Department estimates that about 83 percent of the first 1,600 to take the test have passed, but backlash to the exam from those who say implementation has been rushed has the Board of Regents on Tuesday considering conditional certifications for those who fail,” according to the AP.
The United University Professions, which represents State University of New York faculty, is urging state officials to suspend the test requirement, which first became optional for schools in 2012.
“We cannot stand by and watch this flawed process move forward that could dramatically undermine the professional futures of thousands of would-be teachers,” UUP President Frederick Kowal told the AP.
The exam – the brainchild of the American Federation of Teachers – was originally intended to go into effect last year, but was postponed by state education officials. It requires aspiring teachers to submit a portfolio of written work and videotaped classroom teaching sessions to demonstrate their knowledge of creating lesson plans, actual teaching, and student assessment and evaluation, according to the news service.
The intention is to create a better breed of teachers who are prepared to help students succeed academically. The $300 exam is in addition to three other written tests New York requires for teacher certification.
“It’s a good reflection of what teaching is all about, but it’s a bear. It’s a real bear,” Wendy Paterson, education dean at State University of New York, told the AP.
And that’s the point.
New York is at the forefront of the “bar exam” movement for teachers, with other states like Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington expected to require the same type of test for teacher certifications by 2017.
New York’s would-be teachers can retake any portion of the exam as many times as necessary to get a passing grade, so those who don’t pass the first time aren’t banished from the profession, as Kowal suggests.
Kowal and other labor leaders are undoubtedly concerned that the exam could make it harder for some teachers to make it into the classroom, but that misses the point entirely.
The test is designed to improve the quality of teachers in the state’s schools, and the instruction students receive.
That should be the goal of all educators, and if it’s not, perhaps they are better suited for another profession.