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December 03, 2012


I don't see a problem with the emphasis on improving front-end hiring practices. I need not lay out the litany of issues with attempting to measure "teacher performance" on a truly objective basis given the sheer number of confounding variables in any given set of classes and the fundamental inability to agree on just what yardstick should be used.

On the other hand, while the skills of newly-minted teachers will certainly vary, it should be much easier to set a fundamental baseline underneath the education programs they graduate from, ensuring that teachers meet a minimum level of content competency and pedagogical ability before being placed in a classroom.

I agree with Travis. While it's hard to object to improving teacher preparation, there are various ways to achieve this. One possibility would be to toughen (not weaken, for example by establishing short-term stopgap solutions to teacher shortages as the equals of full professional licences) the accreditation standards of teacher prep programmes, yanking accreditation from weak providers and refusing to hire teachers from schools accredited by weak accreditors.

While much in the proposal is praiseworthy, and the development of such an examination might be pursued as a pilot project, I am skeptical that any satisfactory teachers' bar exam can be produced; the fundamental requirements of teaching are too different from those of law for the analogy to hold well.

Thinking about your recent tweet about the PRAXIS, I don't understand the criticism that it only tests high school level math. Why should a high school teacher have to know Galois theory to teach high school level math well? 98% of what I learned in my college math classes was irrelevant to teaching high school math. The best knowledge I obtained while in college came from tutoring lower-level classes as an extracurricular activity. The high school teacher should just know high school level math *really, really* well.

I was a math major and I took the PRAXIS, and yes, it was absurdly easy. But it seems to me that the cut scores should be raised, rather than introducing additional content that is irrelevant to the job.

The removal of barriers to teaching are an attempt to lower the labor costs associated with education. When teaching has become roboticized you will notice a change in the tests students have to pass. They will emphasize things that can be taught well by machines. I have 35 years experience in a public high school, and during the last few years I have had much more exposure to online classes (mainly used for credit recovery). These courses lack almost everything a traditional course provides. They are less costly, however, so they will grow exponentially.

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