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Delay in teacher certification tests just a sop to unions

Monday, May 5, 2014
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Law students who flunk the bar exam don't get to practice law until they pass it.

Same deal with other professions in which testing is required for certification.

But then again, not all professions are represented by the biggest political donors in the state.

So that's why prospective teachers in New York state who fail the state's certification assessment will get an additional two years to get it right. In the meantime, those educators only will be required to pass a much easier written exam to obtain certification.

The delay — approved Tuesday by the Board of Regents after vocal appeals from the state's teachers' unions — is unfair both to current teachers who pass the full assessment and to students being taught by those unable to prove their competency without a special break.

The new teacher assessment, formally called "edTPA," was announced in 2012 and implemented last year, but colleges were alerted in 2009 that an assessment was coming. The edTPA includes both a written and video component designed to demonstrate the practical knowledge and skills required to help students learn in real classrooms. It's already used in more than 30 states. The assessment, which incorporates Common Core teaching, has been characterized as tough but fair. Even those who entered teacher-education programs before the assessment was required have endorsed it.

The passage rate for this year's full assessment was 82 percent, comparable to the 80 percent passage rate for the bar exam. That's a sign the assessment is not unusually difficult or easy. The passage rate for the new written exam agreed to by the Regents on Tuesday is about 98 percent.

But because a handful of teacher candidates had trouble fulfilling the video component and because union representatives claim that five years is not enough notice for teaching colleges to adjust their curricula, the New York State United Teachers and the United University Professions sought a delay. The state's beleaguered education commissioner, John King — who has been subject to union criticism over the new Common Core standards — reluctantly agreed to the deal in order to mend his relationship with the teachers.

If the state's goal is to place fully qualified teachers in the classroom, then all new teachers should be required to demonstrate proficiency equally. If the public is going to demand that students adapt to new stringent standards, it must demand the same of teachers.

This delay in full implementation of the teacher assessment is a political concession that only postpones the state's efforts to improve our education system.

Once again, politics wins out over kids.

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May 6, 2014
7:23 a.m.
+0 votes
rpandori says...

As a retired union worker who had to qualify to work, I think that the Union involved should agree to the qualifying of the teachers instead of fighting it. By testing you strengthen your union! The whole purpose is to provide the very best people who will do the very best job. If an electrician wasn't, qualified would you want him to wire your home? Education is the most important ingredient to success, we depend on teachers to teach our children the basics they will need. The children taught today will be the leaders of tomorrow. Don't we want the best for our children?

May 8, 2014
6:54 p.m.
+0 votes
rpterry says...

This is not a topic that the "teachers unions" as the press loves to rail against had on their agenda. It is the teacher training programs. The "union" jumped in at the last minute to help.
If your writers knew all the details of the tests and the busy work involved in this ed-TPA you would understand the need for change and delay. The so called union is only asking for delay. The whole thing is a mess of expensive tests and busy work.
What should be done is inspect and certify college programs, then give certification to its graduates. What's wrong is exactly what is wrong with the Common Core mess- too many tests, too expensive of time and money, and rushed before proper time to prepare.


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