When Teacher Certification Depends on the Failure of the Education System

I have benefited from my education, and generally put a high value on education.  However, as I attempt to help my children with their homework and their academic struggles, I find myself very much frustrated with the system.

I love the study of life, but when I look at core curriculum standards for biology, I see an exercise in tedium.  When you dissect a child’s mind to determine what he has learned do you destroy the learning process in the same way that dissecting a frog destroys the life process of the frog?  Is learning destroyed by the attempts to measure it?

But what is really bothering me is a recent change in Iowa teacher certification that guarantees failure of the educational system.

We want the best of teachers for our kids.  We want the cream of the cream.  So Iowa made a change in the law, and the intent was to keep the top teachers and get rid of the worst.

Here’s how it works.  Teachers have historically been required to attend a certified school, typically for four years, and take a specific curriculum.  At the end of that time they submit academic transcripts and if those transcripts meet the requirements they will be issued a teacher license.

All of that is still required.  But now the new teachers have to take a standardized (fairly expensive) test, designed to measure what those students who want to be teachers have learned.  In order to be certified to teach in Iowa, the prospective teacher must score in the upper 75 percentile of all people who have taken the test.

The prospective teachers who score in the bottom quarter of all who take the test are assumed to be poor teachers.  Let them teach somewhere else, but not in Iowa.  But while this is a change in Iowa law, the push seems to be national.  There is a push to have other states adopt similar standards.

So people who want to teach will spend tens of thousands of dollars each year for four years (more or less).  They will lose out on tens of thousands of dollars of income they could have made had they been working instead of going to school.  Many, but not all, will pass the required classes and achieve the educational requirements to teach.  Then that group of students who have paid tens of thousands of dollars each year for four years, and who have passed the classes required of teachers will pay to take the standardized test required of all prospective teachers.  One fourth of them will score in the lower 25 percentile of all teaching candidates, and will not achieve teacher certification.

The system requires that at least one quarter of all students attempting to become teachers obtain the required education but fail to become teachers.

How is that not a failure of the education system?


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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One Response to When Teacher Certification Depends on the Failure of the Education System

  1. Wasn’t GPA proposed to be the defining factor at 3.0 as a college underclassman? I thought it was very decent. You are right that an upper and lower percentage will always be flawed. Regardless of your GPA, there will ALWAYS be a 75-25 split in test takers. A 3.2 GPA student in a field of higher achieving test takers will go into the 25% of non-certificate earners. And this is why we home schooled.

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