Funding to improve teacher prep passes House subcommittee
27 March 2014
by Ron French
Aspiring classroom teachers in Michigan may be facing tougher tests sooner than expected.
The House of Representatives’ Education Subcommittee approved $3.6 million Tuesday to revamp the state’s teacher certification tests. That infusion of cash, if approved by the full House, Senate and Gov. Rick Snyder, would allow the Michigan Department of Education to revise its battery of teacher certification tests in two years, rather than the 11 years the department estimated it would take had it received no extra funding.
Troubles with the state’s battery of teacher certification tests were raised by Bridge Magazine last fall in “Building a Better Teacher,” a series examining Michigan’s teacher preparation system. That series found that Michigan was failing its children by failing beginning teachers – from colleges allowing academically iffy students into education programs, to state certification tests that don’t weed out poorly prepared teacher candidates, to schools where nearly half of its educators quit in frustration within five years.
Last fall, when MDE beefed up the test all aspiring teachers must take before they are allowed to student teach, the pass rate plummeted from 82 percent on previous exams to 26 percent. Michigan Schools Superintendent Mike Flanagan hailed the test results as proof that the state was serious about letting only the most qualified teachers into Michigan classrooms.
But MDE didn’t have the money needed to quickly toughen up more than five dozen other tests on specific teaching subjects. The department said it would take 11 years to get the job done.
The $3.6 appropriation would allow MDE to revise all of these tests in two years.
The appropriations bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
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