Teacher Preparation

Rhode Island Beefs Up Entry Teacher Test

By Stephen Sawchuk — October 14, 2009 1 min read
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Up in Rhode Island, Jennifer Jordan has an excellent story about Rhode Island’s move to make its initial “gateway” teacher test (the one a candidate has to pass to enter a preparation program) the most difficult in the nation.

There’s the usual back and forth about whether a test is an appropriate screening mechanism, but the most interesting part of the story discusses whether it’s possible to screen candidate for attributes, such as compassion, that are difficult to measure using standardized tests.

A staffer from the National Council on Teacher Quality makes an interesting observation by suggesting it’s the state’s role to measure things that are more easily quantifiable (such as content knowledge), while district HRs should handle other aspects.

Lest you think that’s impossible, consider groups like Teach For America. Although this info didn’t make it into my recent piece, the group told me it has done extensive research on the attributes that seem to correlate with its most effective teachers. TFA has also retooled its screening process to check for these characteristics, which include whether a candidate exhibits persistence or is able to find creative solutions to problems.

What sequence do you think states and districts should follow when they screen candidates for teaching jobs?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.