Teachers-to-be might see an exam in their futures earlier than expected — and they would be the ones taking it.
State law currently allows those who have completed a teacher preparation program to receive up to three one-year licenses without passing a basic skills exam. On Jan. 26, the House Education Reform Committee approved HF1770, sponsored by Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R-Woodbury), and sent it to the House floor. It would require teaching candidates to produce a passing score on the exam before obtaining a license in Minnesota.
Kieffer is concerned that teachers are instructing children while being potentially unable to pass the basic skills test. She hopes the bill will increase the quality and rigor of teacher licensing. Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) said that she expects all teachers to be at a passing level or above.
The committee also approved an amendment offered by Rep. Kory Kath (DFL-Owatonna). It would ensure those planning to attend a teaching program would not need to pass the test to gain admittance to a program, as the bill originally stated. They would only need to pass the skills test before obtaining a license.
Kath reasoned that taking the test before even starting a program would be too difficult for teacher candidates. He said colleges, and not the state, were the best determiners of who is fit to enter such a program. Kath further explained that allowing teacher candidates time to produce a passing score lets them address specific areas of the exam where they might have had difficulties.
Karen Balmer, executive director of the Board of Teaching, urged a measured approach to increasing requirements for teacher licensing. However, she acknowledged that simply “loving kids does not a good teacher make.”