Certified teachers are

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 21, 1999

already tested; why add

more bureaucracy?

Published Oct. 21, 1999

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Much has been made of teacher testing in the state of Alabama in recent years, with some saying we need minimum standards for quality and others saying a variety of things – including that a teacher’s ability cannot be judged by a test.

Another anti-testing argument is that testing requires more governmental control over teachers, professionals who practice under some of the most stringent regulations in the country.

Teacher testing raises important questions, and while we agree that testing is a good thing, we think that it should be done at the beginning of a career, and not during or toward the end.

What this means is that we feel the process of giving teachers license to teach is what demands our attention, not the process of deciding their abilities and discarding those teachers who we feel don’t meet our standards.

Some argue that the National Teacher’s Examination and other similar testing programs fit the bill. We agree.

Teacher testing will never decide the value of a person’s teaching methods. The results can only be measured through the children who are taught and influenced by sound teachers. Poor subject knowledge would interfere with a teacher’s ability to teach, but would not, for example, keep a teacher from being a strong influence on the classroom.

Unfortunately, we can measure subject knowledge through testing programs and we can weed out those who lack suffucient knowledge from the profession. But we cannot weed out teachers based on methods, processes, exercises and overall influenced based on tests. And by requiring more testing, another layer of governmental control is added. Teachers already have enough hoops to jump through that keep them from doing what they are being paid to do – educate children.

By adding more tests, more control and more levels of bureaucracy for little or no gain, we are taking incentive away from professionals to enter the teaching field, not giving good professionals incentive to choose teaching as a career.

We think teacher testing is a good thing – as long as it pertains to subject knowledge and to certification requirements. But government cannot measure a teacher’s effectiveness through tests, nor can government be best served by making more good teachers jump through more bureaucratic hoops.

As a result of that, we say again, we support teacher testing. And we already have it as it pertains to certification and to subject knowledge.

The NTE and other tests are required for teachers who want to be certified to teach in Alabama’s schools. Let’s quit looking at testing teachers and let’s start looking at education. We believe good education starts with a community. Let’s keep it there by keeping it out of the hands of meddling bureaucrats who can only think of solutions that involve more layers of control and fewer layers of common sense.