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Are Teachers REALLY "idiots"?

Qualified teachers are in high demand, but critics say new accountability rules are full of loopholes. While the testing requirements of No Child Left Behind may have received more attention, the federal law is equally clear that all kids deserve fine teachers and that staffing solutions of years past -- too many people with subpar credentials or assigned to subjects out of their field -- no longer pass muster. By the end of this school year, reports Anne McGrath, all teachers of core academic classes must be "highly qualified" in their content area, and administrators are racing to beat the deadline. But the rules on how they can prove their content knowledge are decidedly murky, leading many experts to question how much real progress will be made by spring. Under No Child Left Behind, each state gets to determine what brings its own teaching veterans up to snuff -- and most excuse them from passing tests or taking substantial subject-area course work if they can show they've logged a certain number of points for years in the classroom or a range of professional activities. The result? Well over half of states now report that 90% or more of core classes are taught by highly qualified teachers. But critics like Michael Petrilli, a former U.S. Education Department official who is now vice president for national programs and policy at the Washington-based Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (funded by edcRAT Bill Gates) says the state rules are so filled with loopholes that they are doing little to ensure that veterans really have what it takes.

Date: Sat, 4 Jul 1998

Are teachers REALLY "idiots"? They are if you believe Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas Finneran! That's what he recently called the prospective teachers who recently failed the Massachusetts Teacher Exam. He also criticized the colleges granting them degrees. There have been several instances in the news lately that have not put teachers in the brightest of lights. (Matter of fact, it makes us look more like "dim bulbs.") :o(

In case you missed it in the news, more than half of 2,000 would-be teachers in Massachusetts flunked a literacy test rated at about the EIGHTH-grade level! But it wasn't just the number of failures as much as how they failed. They misspelled words that 9-year-olds should have known, were unable to differentiate between nouns and verbs, and failed to define words such as "imminent." Sheesh!

Most of the blame is being leveled at teachers colleges, which often fail to attract the brightest students, and don't always assure that their students master the basics of the subjects they are going to teach.

Here in New York, a Regents Task Force is recommending that if fewer than 85 percent of a college's graduates pass the state certification exams, that school could face loss of accreditation. Currently, only 57 Of New York's 103 teacher education programs meet that standard. (I'm proud to say that I teach graduate classes at one of those institutions, The State University of New York's College at Brockport.)

Today, in some states, it may be harder to graduate from HIGH SCHOOL than to become a certified teacher. There's something wrong with that!

In the Massachusetts case, Education Commissioner Frank Haydu resigned after he made matters worse by proposing that the state lower the exam's passing grade to reduce the 60-percent failure rate. (When they DID lower the standard, the failure rate was STILL 44-percent! Go figure!)

Things are equally bad in other states...

The Massachusetts flare-up is likely to be repeated in states that are either introducing teacher testing or tightening existing tests. That happened in Pennsylvania, where minimum qualifying scores on the Praxis teacher exam were set so low that candidates could miss 50 percent or more of the questions and still pass. Yikes! Would we accept that level of performance from our STUDENTS???

In Hawaii, more than half the 986 teachers hired for the past school year failed either to complete or pass teacher certification tests.

In the Connetquot district in Long Island, the school superintendent last year had 758 applicants for 35 spots. As a screening tool, he gave the applicants the Regents reading comprehension test normally given to 11th-graders. Guess what? Only 202 of the 758 applicants passed! Unbelievable! (And some of them were undoubtedly English teachers who were going to teach that stuff to KIDS... and expect THEM to pass!)

Just how important is teacher quality, you ask? Listen to this... in Texas, Harvard researcher Ron Ferguson found teacher quality, as measured by scores on licensing exams and level of education, to be the single strongest predictor of how a child will fare in school!