The president of the American Federation of Teachers today at the Aspen Ideas Festival pitched the idea of a “bar exam” for teachers that would help determine when a prospective teacher is ready for the classroom.
It’s an idea with a certain intuitive appeal, given a lot of discussion about other countries that require teachers to meet higher entry-level standards.
It is also quite a vague idea at the moment. A harder test, for instance, isn’t likely to do much by itself, if the passing scores are set as low as they currently are. And that’s without even getting into the politics of a national teacher test or the reasons why previous versions of this idea haven’t worked (anyone remember the National Teacher Examinationsfrom the 1930s)?
Perhaps AFT will flesh out the idea in the future through its recently created panel on teacher preparation.
Even then, teacher testing isn’t really a policy area that unions have much say over: It’s a responsibility that state boards or licensing bodies control. And as recent wrangling in Illinois shows, the concept of harder teacher tests is in no way a slam dunk among teacher colleges.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.