Our Opinion: Teacher exams not one-size-fits-all

Published 10:26 am Thursday, February 27, 2014

Prospective teachers in Minnesota may soon have one less hurdle to jump before becoming licensed. The Minnesota House Education Policy Committee is considering eliminating the difficult college-level skills test in reading, writing and math. While the test may not be a solid indicator of a prospective teacher’s skills, it serves an important purpose and should not be dropped without a comparable replacement licensing requirement.

Everybody wants highly qualified teachers in Minnesota schools, and it’s important that these educators are knowledgeable in core skills regardless of what subject they teach. These tests do a good job of weeding out many of those who shouldn’t lead a classroom of children; however, there should be a better way to go about allowing only qualified teachers to be licensed.

In the classroom, the most important thing is that a teacher can connect with kids on a psychological level. Under the current system, a prospective teacher who plans to teach 6-year-olds can’t be licensed without passing a math test that would leave the vast majority of the general population dumbstruck.

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The tests serve an important purpose, but it’s OK that the state committee is considering a change. License qualifications should ensure Minnesota fills its classrooms with only well-prepared teachers, but the best answer is probably not a one-size-fits-all test.