AFT recommends an entry 'bar' exam for teachers
Randi Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
December 4th, 2012
01:44 PM ET

AFT recommends an entry 'bar' exam for teachers

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) The American Federation of Teachers has issued a report advocating an entry exam for all teacher candidates, like the bar exam taken by aspiring lawyers.

The test, which would be required of all future teachers nationwide, would be given to candidates regardless of whether they are entering the profession through traditional means or “an alternative route.”

The AFT report titled “Raising the Bar: Aligning and Elevating Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession”  included a statement by AFT president Randi Weingarten: “We must do away with a common rite of passage, whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they (and their students) sink or swim. Such a haphazard approach to the complex and crucial enterprise of educating children is wholly inadequate. It’s unfair to both students and teachers, who want and need to be well-prepared to teach from their first day on the job. At a time when we are raising the standards for students through the Common Core State Standards, we must do the same for teachers.”

The report suggests that the exam be multidimensional and include subject knowledge as well as pedagogical knowledge. In other words, in addition to having to know the subject they teach, teachers would have to demonstrate that they had the qualities to be “caring, competent and confident.”

The report also states the responsibility for setting professional standards and establishing quality teacher preparation programs should reside with K-12 educators and teacher-educators.

Currently, teacher certification is determined by the individual states in which the teacher will hold a license; requirements vary widely.  Many states have different types of certification that require exams, practice teaching, and college courses. All 50 states require at least a Bachelor’s Degree and some clinical experience as minimum requirements for licensure.

The American Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO that represents more than 1.5 million members, according to the union’s website.

You can read the AFT report here.

We want to know what you think: Should teachers be required to take a standardized professional exam before being licensed to teach?  You can post your comments below.

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Filed under: Policy • teacher unions • Teachers • Voices
soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. Jeff Levinson

    No problem. Just pay us like lawyers!

    December 12, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  2. cadets

    All I hear these days is raising standards (raise this raise that), requiring more and more from teachers. I never hear the comment, "Raise teacher's pay," by any of those same people. Where is the incentive to teach? How about raising the standards expected of parents.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  3. Laurie Mullin

    I am certified to teach in New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska, and Massachusetts. Every state had its hoops that I had to jump through just to get a certificate. Every state has different requirements, and as a military spouse, it just made each move that much more of a pain. We're standardizing the curriculum...why can't we standardized the profession?

    December 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  4. Ray

    In 1988 I passed the eight hour NTE (National Teacher Exam) after graduating college. It was a requirement to teach in Indiana. What has changed? Now Indiana has just passed a law that a person need only a bachelors degree with a 3.0 average to teach. No education classes, no student teaching, and no NTE exam are required. . I cry for my countty.

    December 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Ray

      I cry for my country. (sp)

      December 7, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  5. Soon to be Teacher

    PPST 1
    Praxis II
    MTEL for Wisconsin
    TPA for Student teaching – effective in 2014/15

    How much more do we need to be tested to prove that we can teach... Just another hoop to jump through and more money for us to waste to pay a company. The test above, approach a price of $800 passing in on the first try. It is important that we know how to teach and the material but testing isn't always the answer to gather the data to prove a teacher can teach. Isn't this a reason that we go to college and pay them thousands of dollars... Keep adding more requirements and soon nobody will want to teach.

    December 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • 8teststoomany

      I am applying to be a teacher in the state of Oregon and have to take 8 tests! 3 tests to apply for school, 3-4 for my student teaching (Basic Skills x2 and 2 subject area tests) and 1 civil rights exam. If this "Bar Exam" consolidates those 8 tests, yes it make sense, but if it is on top of those, I don't think it makes sense... Isn't the point to start moving away from standardized testing?

      December 6, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  6. lwst

    There are already 3 tests in place that need to be passed before certification. Another test isn't needed. If they're going to address the problems with public education, they need to look elsewhere.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  7. charles darwin

    The main problem is lack of discipline and desire to learn with students.
    The roughnecks and slackers are the ones are holding back the good students.
    If this problem is not corrected any time soon the U.S.A. will continue to lag the rest of the world in academics.
    Time to get tough people! Enough of being politically correct and calling racism. Raise the bar to where it was 30 years ago.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  8. JJ

    It's about time we started testing teachers. I had an English teacher that said certain words didn't exist after I showed her them in the dictionary. Many fields test their employees or have an entry evaluation, I don't see how teachers are any different.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • a teacher

      Teachers are tested routinely and rigorously. Check your facts before you post comments. This is another example of why CNN should be ashamed for posting an article that influences the uninformed masses into false judgments.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
      • a student

        I agree with the original poster, some teachers are not at a high enough standard to be teaching children. Some of my current teachers can't even through a ten minute lecture without looking into their books or saying, "I think that's right." Teachers should be tested.

        December 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  9. PJ

    You can put all the hoops you want people to jump through but until parents do their job to prepare their kids for school it will not make one bit of difference. I have been teaching to 28 years and have learned exponentially more than any idiotic test can measure. Fewer people will be going into the profession, the pendulum will swing back the other way and round and round we go. Also, its time to stop comparing us to countries like China that only educate the upper range of the spectrum. We educate everyone and do a pretty damn good job with what comes through our doors.

    December 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  10. Bregsman

    This seems like a waste of money. The teachers certification and interview (which is usually several interviews) should work fine. Just add your "bar" questions to the interview. We don't need another layer adding costs to our already underfunded education system.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  11. Donna Krache, Exec. Producer

    To clarify a point of discussion in these comments: The NTE was replaced by the Praxis. The Praxis is required in most states, but not every state. This is indicated on the Praxis site: In my home state of Georgia, for example, the Praxis is not part of the certification process.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • PJ

      Test and certification practices are designed so some dimwit that thinks they have the answer can feel relevant. You know who I'm talking about, like the pin-heads at the AFT. Its just another "Look at me! Look at me! I have the answer!" diatribe.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • a teacher

      My sister teaches in Georgia and had to pass an extremely difficult subject area test for certification. So, just because Georgia does not require the "Praxis" test does not mean that the state does not require a test at all. Th information in this article is misleading represents another attempt by the media to criticize and demean our nation's teachers. CNN should be more responsible, and more informed, in what they "teach" the members of our society.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • a teacher

      Furthermore, if CNN is going to include such inflammatory comments as the one made by the president of the AFT ("We must do away with a common rite of passage, whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they (and their students) sink or swim."), they should be sure to include data to either support or dispute such statements. I would really like to know which states actually do this. Also, the fact that the president calls this practice "the common rite of passage" for teachers reflects a basic disconnect with our educational system. She should be ashamed and embarrassed.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
      • soundnfury

        Hear, hear! Good points.

        December 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  12. Medina

    I'm in favor of a " bar" type of teacher exam if it takes the place of the Praxis. Also, the test should have one passing score that is a national standard score. This will allow teachers to be qulified through out all 50 states, and be able to relocate without having to take another exam for teaching in another state.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  13. veggieconquistadora

    I *did* have to take licensing exams (PRAXIS and ACTFL exams). Are there really states that just let anyone teach? I'm a PA teacher.

    December 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  14. Shirley

    We have the Praxis already... Add whatever test you want. As long as teachers' salaries remain abysmal (making 36,000 after 10 years on the job, for example), the highest quality workers will burn out and leave the profession or make the smart choice never to teach in the first place. You get what you pay for, America.

    December 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • a teacher

      It is astounding that so few seem to grasp this basic economic concept.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  15. Tyler

    Speaking for Ohio, I had to take multiple standardized tests in order to qualify for a teaching license (Praxis). If a national standized test would replace the tests already in existance, I would support it. If it was used in addition to existing tests, I feel this would be excessive and just another way to squeeze more money out of college students.

    December 5, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Marie

      LOL! College students have to begin to live in the real world at some point. Everything we do these days is designed to squeeze the money right from our pockets and feed the beast that is our economy.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  16. Jay Rehak

    The science and art of teaching requires not only content knowledge, but also an understanding of pedagogy. The AFT President is on the right track, but to really make the system effective, teachers should be tested before entering the classroom, then re-certified at reasonable (5 year) intervals. This will keep these teaching professionals abreast of the latest and best educational and pedagogical thinking. The difficulty in 21st Century teaching is a result of the ever changing technological advances made by society. Students are bombarded with ever increasing "real time" information. Teachers need to help students navigate an increasingly difficult set of learning environments. Only when society begins to acknowledge the difference between the learning environments of the past with those of the present and future can we begin to effectively and meaningfully reshape educational policy in this country.

    December 5, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Mary

      Speaking, at least from the standpoint of Ohio, as an educator, we are required to take both a content area test, a theoretical test (praxis), after which we receive a four year residency license. You must participate in a four year residency program which aligns you with an experienced teacher who guides you through those first four years. We are also required to attend regular meetings, analyze data from our own classrooms, etc. After this four year period, we are required to take another test, and then are given a five year license. You must renew your license every five years, and most if not all districts require a continuing education aspect (this means you continue to take collegiate level courses). Personally, I would be quite happy with those requirements being made universal.

      December 5, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • a teacher

      Teachers are re-assessed each every 5 years. This is accomplished through the acquisition of required continuing education credits, which teachers have to pay for themselves. Again, before posting on this thread, one should really access his own knowledge (or lack thereof) of our education system.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  17. Jesse

    Not sure what fantasy land I was living in until this moment, but I thought this exam existed. We called it the Praxis II... If licensing exams don't exist, someone please tell me what exam I sat through.

    December 5, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • NCteacher

      In NC, I also had to take Praxis 1 exams [to get into my program] and Praxis 2 [in both content and pedagogy for my subject area]. But those are NC requirements- and although many states use the Praxis exams, I think there are states that do not require those as components for the license. I think the point of this was making sure that the process is universal- and that all teachers have to suffer through the exams equally to ensure the same competency level as teachers, just like we expect our students to be able to perform on their exams.

      December 5, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  18. Jack Alex

    I think we all know that the only ones that get hired to be public school teachers are relatives of other teachers, sons, daughters,nephews, neices, cousins etc so forth and so on

    December 5, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Ryan Bird

      You, obviously, have no idea what you are talking about. I have gotten teaching jobs, in 2 separate public school districts, without being the relative of someone. If you do not know what you are speaking about, you should sound off on subjects.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:49 am |
      • Carrie m

        I think they are referring to smaller communities. I know that in my small community it is "who you know, not what you know" that gets you a teaching contract. I am sure in metropolitan areas this is not the case. Kudos if you are in a small community and they hire on merit and knowledge and not your social standing in your community.

        December 5, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • hypatia

      go back to watching faux news

      December 5, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  19. Marcella McConnell

    I believe that teachers should be tested INSTEAD of the students. If a teacher had the knowledge of their content, knowledge of pedagogical strategies, and knowledge of their students, the students will learn. Many of things that make a teacher effective cannot be measured, specifically the amount the teacher cares for his/her students. However, if a teacher does not know his/her content, it doesn't matter how much they care. In-service teachers should also be tested every 3 or 4 years in their content. Imagine teachers studying what they have to know to teach well. Being a teacher... I say "BRING ON THE TEST"... BUT also get rid of the students' narrowing curriculum standardized tests. Let the teachers' creativity flow and teach INDIVIDUAL students vs. everyone learning the same level.

    December 5, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  20. Mark Thomas

    Something tells me that this story has been grossly misrepresented by the writer who got the message wrong due to ignorance.

    The national test for all teachers has been around for decades, a fact the reporter should have known – but clearly didn't. When I entered teaching, I took the National Teachers Examination, the NTE, as well as national examinations in individual subject areas. The president of the AFT knows that and must have assumed that a working reporter knew this rudimentary fact of the story's topic.

    Today, all teachers take the national Praxis examination as well as subject area examinations, again all national tests. States establish scoring thresholds for each of these tests.

    As far as the sink-or-swim myth reported and likely take out of context through ignorance, not malice, beginning teachers do go through mandatory mentorships before they have their original licenses upgraded.

    No one claims that the current system is ideal, but that's not the point here. Claims that assume there are no such tests or that those tests haven't been mandated for decades beg another question entirely"

    Should journalists have to pass ANY national examination of competency before they are trusted to produce accurate articles?

    December 5, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • MarkinFL

      First, please give any credible evidence that there has ever been a news article that accurately reported a story. To my knowledge it has never happened and if so it was by almost certainly by pure chance.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • tom p.

      Loved your note. Thank you.

      Also, loved the notion that "reporters" (or at least editors, if we have them these days) be given exams in order to qualify for a job. Heck, these folks inform (teach?) the public about what is going on day to day. The old adage "garbage in, garbage out" applies to social views, too.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Allie

      I am currently a student teacher in CA, and we don't have that national test you are talking about. Believe me, we have plenty of other pointless hoops to jump through, but not that one.

      How can anyone really measure a "good" teacher without sitting in my room and watching my interactions with students. If you aren't constantly learning and studying the content, you cannot be a good teacher, there shouldn't have to be a test for that because all teachers should be doing that anyway.

      December 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • a teacher

      So true.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  21. ytuque

    What is this woman talking about "sink or swim?" My friends who became teachers back in the 80s received teaching certifications which had a coursework and practice teaching requirements. None of them was just handed the keys to the classroom.

    Unfortunately, they all went on to get graduate degrees in education rather than in their field. This enriches the schools of education but shortchanges the students. Any pedagogical test they come up with will be a joke, and the schools of education which simply teach the test as this will affect their ranking.

    And from my friend's kids who are now middle and high school students, it appears that there are too many disruptive kids who need to be kicked out of the classroom and put in what used to be called reform school.

    December 5, 2012 at 6:09 am |
  22. B

    I taught high school English for 5 years. Now I'm in law school. This is much easier than teaching.

    All my "teachers" now passed the bar, but none of them actually teach. They just lecture using outdated pedagogy models. Frankly, I wish my law professors were required to take a "teacher bar." That might justify their ridiculous salaries.

    December 5, 2012 at 4:41 am |
    • bruno

      have existing teachers passed a bar cause i know a crapload that are not qualified.and probably could not even pass an entry level exam or new qualification

      December 5, 2012 at 5:45 am |
    • tom p.

      Ever hear the phrase: "Those who can 'do', those who can't 'teach'".

      I think the accuracy of this phrase is inversely proportional to the level of education in question. I, respectfully, do not include 'teachers' who practice their chosen profession, and educate those in training along the way.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  23. weebitwidd11e

    Finland does this. The teachers go through a couple years of learning on how to be a teacher, and then they get to teach students with supervision, and then by themselves. Yes its a good idea. But let the Union foot the bill. They love their teachers, so for once prove it.

    As for the teachers being required yes some will baulk at this too. But something needs to be done. Sink or swim is no way to teach a class our children deserve better than this. Teachers should embrace it. What really should come out of this is for our teachers is that teachers should earn the right to be called "Master teachers". Anything less than this should be called no more than a teachers aide. Think on this, and see if you like the idea of a teacher being called "Master their-last-name-here" I believe so it shows respect, and honors a teacher for going the extra mile to be a teacher.

    December 5, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • Chris

      Teachers already do take tests to become qualified to teach. Praxis I and Praxis II...most states require anywhere from 2-5 different tests, not even counting the NTE exam. Also, teachers now walk into a job with a mandatory mentorship program which lasts years and includes work on pedagogy as well as reflection with an experienced teacher as a mentor. It is not a program for someone who does not like hard work and most definitely not for someone who wants to make a lot of money. There are bad teachers out there, but I guarantee you will find "bad" employees in pretty much every field out there. So instead of bashing all teachers, lets weed out the ones that are not doing what they need to do, and thank the teachers who spend numerous hours every day outside their work hours as well as the many weekends they work.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:20 am |
      • Jordyn Davenport

        I thoroughly agree with you that there a plenty of excellent teachers out there working very long hours to their best for their students and that the issue shouldn't be to further burden them but to weed out those who aren't very good at teaching and who don't put forth effort. BUT, practically nothing is being done to get chronically under-performing teachers out of the system, at least in Texas anyway, and we don't even really have unions! Teachers are just shuffled down to non-testing grades or from school to school as if that somehow makes it any better that they're not doing their jobs.

        December 5, 2012 at 11:07 am |
      • weebitwidd11e

        Then the Praxis I and Praxis II is failing in some way how else can you explain why we have bad teachers? Not every State uses the same method either. So something is going on. It could be a student/parent issue along with poor neighborhoods. It could be a number of things. One of those things is respect. If the bar exam will give teachers back the respect they so desperately need. Then go with it. I still say if a teacher goes the extra mile then they deserve to be called "Master Teachers". Their name used in the classroom should reflect as a Master Teacher as well.

        December 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  24. bhiljacker

    It's about time! Back in the '70s and '80s if one flunked out of nursing school they could major in teaching with flying colors!

    December 5, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • a teacher

      I don't know if you are aware of this but it is 2012, not the seventies or eighties. I am sure this comment has some obscure relevance though.

      December 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
      • a teacher

        And dear God I hope you are not a nurse. That will certainly add to my anxiety next time I am hospitalized.

        December 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  25. Renzo

    The problem isn't that we don't have an entry exam. The root of the problem is in our priorities as a nation. We pay millions to basketball and football players and measly wages for those who educate our children. We value sports and entertainment more than the future of our kids. Once we revere teachers and pay them well then the market will be rich with capable and bright teachers from which to pick. Making a teacher bar exam is a patch, not a fix. That's the problem boys and girls. Class dismissed...

    December 5, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Luv2Learn

      Yours is the only comment here that hits at the core of this issue. Thank you for your comment and your insight!

      December 5, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • MrMynor

      I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that the profession, as a whole, needs to be held in higher esteem, and that teachers must earn more than they are currently before education will improve significantly in this country, but I take issue with your characterization of a more rigorous licensing exam as being merely a patch, not a fix. The pay issue is a symptom of the larger cultural problem, yes, but the larger cultural problem won't magically take care of itself. In fact, if left alone, the problem will likely become more pronounced as state education boards seek to cut costs and stay within their budgets.

      Its a bit of a chicken/egg conundrum that boils down to the proposition that higher wages will draw better teachers, so the question is how we get to that point. You suggest by your comment that the proper solution is to increase the value that we as a society place on education, which is certainly an admirable goal, but from a practical standpoint it is not readily apparent how that can be achieved. Basic economic theory dictates that there is more than one way to skin this cat, however. Whereas you suggest that the problem lies on the demand side of the market (and you may very well be right about that) the fact is we can't very well manipulate the demand side through policy. The price of a service can also be increased by supply-side manipulation, which is precisely what this licensing exam proposal purports to accomplish. By making the licensing requirements more rigorous, you erect higher barriers to entering the field, which in turn decreases the supply of qualified individuals in the employment pool, in turn making the services they offer more valuable, which ultimately allows those individuals to demand higher wages. The proposal is a practical means of accomplishing the same goal that you identify, just from the other side of the equation. If you can think of a more effective way to address the issue on the demand side, I would love to hear it.

      December 5, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  26. sefs

    ....There are already teacher exams and student teaching confused about how this is different than what is in place now.....the union must have some sort of agenda with teacher prestige and pay....

    December 5, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • sefs

      oh yea, i think there is a national teaching certification thing (not just state,) I remember being filmed in Highschool for my environmental science teacher doing his. I remember he jumped in the air when he got the e-mail saying he got it. He said it meant like an extra 6k a year in pay....

      December 5, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  27. lexshain

    If the schools where they receive a degree are accredited why burden tax payers further with some bar exam? And why not offer a decent salary to the excellent teachers we do happen upon who do their job well and enjoy it.

    December 5, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  28. NC_Right

    I agree with bar exams for the people teaching our children

    December 5, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  29. teacher43

    I have been in the teaching profession for seven years. I have been cussed at, spit on, punched, kicked, had my tires slashed, threatened by and confronted by parents. Teaching is by far a thankless job. However, I don't go to work every day for the money or accolades. I get up and go to work every day, and stay late every afternoon because I love my job. I do it for the students, who more often than not, don't have anyone at home that cares about them. I could make a lot more money doing something else, but I don't. Are there bad teachers out there? Absolutely! However, the majority of teachers are hard working, caring professionals, and over all excellent teachers. But they can't do it all. Parents need to take an active role in their child's education. They can't just send their kid to school unprepared and expect teachers to work miracles.

    December 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Yet they do and will continue to do so. And then they will complain that the schools are not doing their job. The problem is the parents are not doing their job.

      December 5, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  30. Jenn

    Educators today have to deal w/ so much more than they did 20-30 years ago. In addition to educating, they have to pick up the slack of many parents. Not only does this take time away from actually teaching, but if a child slips thru the cracks, all blame is placed on the teacher. Parents need to be held accountable for the educational progress of their children. Many parents today don't assist their children w/ homework, keep up w/ their daily work, or even get them to school on time or regularly. On top of that, they don't teach or enforce manners, respect, or appropriate behavior. I agree that an extra measure may need to take place to weed out bad teachers-once in place b/c a test really can't tell us how good of a teacher someone will be-but parents also need to do their part when it comes to the education of their children.

    December 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Frankly, there should be a bar exam for parenthood.

      December 5, 2012 at 8:00 am |
      • Jenn

        I completely agree. I also believe in mandated sterilization.

        December 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  31. Ozarkhomesteader

    We have these exams. They are called the Praxis. Teachers take the first level to be admitted to their programs. Then they must pass tests in their content areas. Finally, they take the third part, pedagogy, after they student teach and then teach for a year (or is it more?). Anyway, the tests already exist, and states all require them.

    December 4, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Easy There Cowboy

      Hi all, I printed this article off and just stuck it in a time capsule slated to be buried tomorrow and revisited 15 years down the line. Here are my predictions once dug up and opened:
      1. This exam will have gone into effect and is already in process of being phased out and given a new name and price (still at teachers expense of course).
      2. Individuals with no teaching experience still rely on the single minded comeback "you have summer off" without realizing the 2 or 3 side jobs you have to supplement your lousy income or the college credits you're paying for and attending which is state mandated!
      3. One teacher messes up (a human trait) and all teachers are held accountable for his/her actions.

      December 5, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  32. hmmm

    A few weeks back I had a "real-worlder" discuss their profession with my class. Exciting, right? I thought so. But the 4 students who I had to continually wake up thought otherwise. It's my fault. 100%. I should've had indoor fireworks and blaring music instead of a speaker. Thankfully the 20 others enjoyed it.

    December 4, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  33. Oh if only

    Oh if only, We had a society that cared more about its children learning simple addition, respect of an authority figure, and being held accountable for his or her school work instead if one that is constantly warring with itself and trying to pass the blame. When teachers have to play psychologist, mom, dad, teacher, every day of the week for 180 days a year, plus be at school an extra 5 days of in house workshops learning continuously changing requirements, only to be told that they still aren't good enough, it is not the problem if the teacher most of whom have to keep a second job in order to pay for the continuous PDPs and courses to keep material fresh because we are no longer able to cover the amount of information we were able to back when students were held countable for the work, or lack of work they did.

    Teachers are teachers because they are passionate about the subject they teach and like being with the students, even those who make you want to jump of the highest building with no bungee. I am back in the field, going for my Masters in Teaching because it is still the only way to insure keeping my job... The laughable part is that upon completing my BA , studying at
    A European University, doing student teaching and passing all the exams necessary for me to step into a school system, and passing the necessary exams , I will still need to keep making myself and my teaching practices better only to continue teaching the basics. If you take and apple from a bunch if fruit containing one apple, how many apples will be left?... Or If you have a person from Boston who is called a Bostonian, What is a Parisian?
    I don't know about you other teachers out there but, I tutor and do other work to keep myself alive and sane... Otherwise, most days in class I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

    December 4, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • hmmm

      I received an email from a student I tutored in differential equations while I was in college. He was asking how things were and wanted to thank me again for helping him with differential equations. He's currently making 1.5 times what I do. I dont know if my heart should melt or I should quit teaching and enter the profession he is in.

      December 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • hmmm

      Ill probably keep teaching because it's not about the money. You know, I dont have bills to pay because Im a teacher...

      December 4, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Tracye F. Valentine

      Totally agree!

      December 4, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  34. Stefani Marroquin

    I think it would be fine for teachers to take a bar exam, just as long as our pay would be commensurate with lawyers.

    December 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • hmmm

      Thats not the plan, though. It's to cut teachers down, break unions that support public education, and privatize education so a few private education companies can make billions off of vouchers. Already happening with anywhere from excellent to awful results. Funded by grants from businesses that may or may not have the best interests of humans in mind, depending on your views.

      December 4, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Lawyer

      Have you looked at the recent statistics for attorney compensation and the amount of debt that they carry after completing law school? It's not as fabulous as you think it is.

      December 5, 2012 at 10:41 am |
      • teacher

        Have you looked at how much debt teachers carry and how little they are paid. I know a lot of teachers whose loans are in deferment because they do not make 1.5 times the poverty level.

        December 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  35. Teacher

    Hahahahahaha, this is hilarious. I guess the multiple licensure tests are not enough. I'll take it as long as I get paid like a lawyer!!!

    December 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Lawyer

      I'm attorney, you can have my salary... its $55k per year. Oh, you can also have my school debt $178k. This is the reality of being an attorney these days.

      December 5, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  36. Curious

    Geeze......same argument...sad. Simple solution all that have mentioned about 10 months pay, great benefits, cake job, failing our students, etc......PLEASE!!!!....GO TEACH! If it's such a good gig, GO TEACH!!!!!

    December 4, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  37. Katie

    I don't know what is worse the article, the people discussing America's education system, the all the grammical errors in comments by "teachers" discussing America's educaton system?

    December 4, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Easy There Cowboy

      I'm a teacher. It's spelled "grammatical" by the way. See – we do this for free!

      December 4, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
      • John Debba

        Thanks for the laugh....really enjoyed your reply..

        December 4, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
      • chicadow

        Hey now, take it easy on Katie. It's not her fault. Her English teacher didn't do a good job. If the bar exam were required she would be writing as an intellectual capable of representing her thoughts and feelings through proper prose. Yeah right.

        December 5, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  38. Nm

    What about all the state tests you take (and all the money you spend) in order to become a teacher?? I'm pretty sure those are meant to do the same things. Unless we are going to move to a national certification, these tests are superfluous.

    December 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  39. hmmm

    Nobody reads facts any more?

    The red scare is education. Another way to bust labor unions and drive labor costs down.

    December 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • analgogkid

      Great statistics in that Article, Hmmm. Thanks for sharing.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  40. Bev

    Food for thought..... I know a lot of people who are book smart yet have no common sense. Having someone take a test and doing well on it does not make a great teacher!!! I can't believe how many people have truly no idea what goes on in a classroom - amazing and sad!!!

    December 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • hmmm

      Yup, and I know a couple in the all holy private sector that talk about how incompetent and lazy some of their coworkers are and they dont get canned. Oh wait, that doesnt happen outside of unions and teaching (yawn!) Tell me another!

      December 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  41. hmmm

    Oh, I had a doctor that said I needed fairly serious surgery. Got a second opinion, 2nd doctor laughed at the first doctor. Funny thing, the incompetent one is still employed. Keep spouting darkness.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  42. Terry

    You know, time and time again I read comments on news sites like this where the public just slams teachers believing they are the only ones to blame for this mess. I've put 13 years in now. I love teaching, but I just can't take the abuse any longer. Until you have all walked a mile in a teacher's shoes you will never understand the complete lack of leadership we deal with from both administrators and PARENTS. This will be my last year. Thank you.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I'm a parent and could not agree more.

      December 5, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  43. darkness

    What we need is the ability to get rid of lousy teachers by simple termination. Passing a test does not make you a good teacher.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • hmmm

      Hey, let's fire all people below average then . 1/2 the country will be jobless. Then lets fire all the people below the new average. So, half of a half. Well, whatever,I just like to spout without thinking.

      December 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • hmmm

      "Only the best should teach!" So get the top 1%. But, just so you know, the bottom half of the top 1% would be below average teachers then Have to fire them.

      December 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  44. It is kinda like....

    Is a dentist evaluated, criticized, paid or fired based on how many cavities his/her patients have? No, that would be ridiculous because the dentist can only control what goes on when the patient is in his/her chair. When the patient is at home, is the patient being taught to brush properly, and often enough, floss frequently, eat healthy foods & drinks, and over all have proper hygiene? At some point, the patient has to take ownership of his oral health and put effort in. It is much the same with education. We teachers can do our best when the children are in our chairs, but at some point, the children need to take ownership of their education after being taught proper behaviors and routines at home.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • hmmm

      Yup, and my wife takes better care of her teeth than I do, but I have no cavities. Odd how nature affects things, too.

      December 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Jenn

      For years I've been saying that parents need to be held accountable for their children's educational progress. It's sad how educators are blamed for failing students when the ones really failing them are those that conceived them.

      December 4, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  45. hmmm

    Lisa, most states already require two tests at minimum to be a licensed teacher. Every few years techers need credits at a cost of a couple thousand dollars to get recertified. Many dont pass the content test the first time. So, great post, but like many Americans you have an opinion and no clue about what actually occurs. Since you obviously have it out for teachers go take the math content area test without studying and see if you too end up in the top 5% of the nation.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  46. Victor

    This exists. AFT didn't invent it. It as called the "National Teachers' Exam" when I took it 21 years ago. Now it's called the Praxis."

    The difference is that the Praxis is a set of tests that are content and level specific.

    As a teacher I am curious to know WHO fact checked this story. 🙂

    December 4, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Jenna

      Thank you!. I took two PRAXIS exams because that is what South Carolina REQUIRED of me before I could ever think about being licensed. Did they even bother to look into the facts. Teachers already have their "bar" exam and we have to re-certify every 5 years on top of that!

      December 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • E. Joseph

      You took the words right out of my mouth (or keyboard). What a bunch of foolishness is this article!!!

      Two things happened simultaneously to destroy the education system in this country: 1) NCLB, and 2) Gen Yers became parents.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
      • soundnfury

        Now, now, let's not blame an entire generation. I'm part of this accursed Generation Y, yet many of my cohorts did very well for themselves and are contributing members of society. I had a wonderful teaching career that I postponed to raise children. I agree that the teaching system is broken, but another test is not going to fix the problem just like another test for "our kids" (the students) is not going to make them any smarter. I don't see the generation of the parents as an issue, rather the quality of parents and the love of education in the parents that ultimately affects how a student approaches school.

        December 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Matt Aliberti

      I know this exists at least in CT. I was also going to mention that the test they are saying we "need" already exists. To start you need to take and pass PRAXIS I and then you need to pass your content area test – the PRAXIS II. I don't think the tests ensure you are a better teacher. However, I would like them to allow master teachers to take a different PRAXIS test to cross certify. If you have proven that you can teach effectively, it would help those stay if they are bored or need a change of scenery. I am special ed certified with a Masters in Education and over 12 years of experience, but I would have to take bachelor's level courses if I want to cross certify in English or Social Studies. I would not be against a change...

      As for how everyone is searching for the ultimate way to cure education... It would be nice for the teachers of this country to at least garner a smidgeon of respect. I work in an alternative public school for troubled youth. I am challenged to teach the "unteachable" the kids who washed out of several programs, have been expelled from their original districts, have mental illness and cognitive challenges. I am assaulted almost daily, yet I still come back for more, try to teach these kids who were kicked to the curb all their lives and mold them into productive citizens. Yet, I as many of my colleagues are under appreciated. We are not in it for the money. It is hard to demand the best candidates when you are tethered to a salary that is a fraction of what an aspiring college student can make in the business field, hard science, medicine, law and other specialties. I work with a lot of great teachers- not everyone is a rocket scientist or an award winning author but they are hard workers that care about kids, and most importantly know how to teach.
      Thanks to all the hard working teachers.

      December 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  47. Lisa

    CPA's need licenses to protect money, doctors need licenses to protect patients, and teachers need licenses to protect children. Why hasn't this already been done? License the teachers = pay them more money = more qualified candidates who WANT to be there = US Global Education Dominance. LONG OVERDUE.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • analgogkid

      @ Lisa – Teachers in Ohio are required to have a teaching license and background check. The 1st license is a 4-year provisional licence that requires course work, student teaching experience, and the passage of suitable tests to receive. During the 4-year provisional license the new teacher is under the supervision of a mentoring teacher to various degrees. A 5-year license follows which requires 6 semester hours of credit (or other suitale professional development) to renew.

      December 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • hmmm

      Great ideas that MOST STATES ALREADY DO!!!! Except the pay them more part. Do some research before you make yourself look ignorant.

      December 4, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • hmmm

      BTW Lisa, when you deseggregate the data of the international tests by poverty level, the US outperforms all countries. For instance, US is the best if we compare top 10% US with top 10% other countries, 11-20% US with 11-20% other countries, etc. But that doesnt make the news. Propaganda, people.

      December 4, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  48. hmmm

    When I send an email to over 150 parents any given day and receive more than 20 replies within a month Ill go for merit pay and anything else the public wants.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  49. Roger Browning

    This is ridicules. What about the freaking parents?? Where is their "bar exam"? They're 1/2 (or more like 2/3) of the equation here. Why do all of societies and individule parental woes keep getting dumped on relatively low-paid (considering their education and college degree requirements) teachers? Yeah, by all means keep them accountable -there is slackers in every occupation – no?...But to blanket assign all of the responsibility of student failure on teachers is a huge cop-out, and lazy way of pointing fingers to protect the status quo, all due to failure of imagination in coming to terms with the enormity of our societal failure in this area.

    December 4, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  50. Vicky Chang

    I totally support the idea that teachers should be tested academically and pedagogically. I have raised 3 children, some of the teacher my children had were horrible.

    December 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Rock

      This is a state mandated issue. Many states already have the praxis I and praxis II tests...why should there be a 3rd? The praxis one if for Math and English to be accepted into the college of education. The praxis II is for content knowledge and must be passed to aquire a teacher's license. Guess what? Teachers must pay for these tests. Lawyers make good money, teachers do not, yet we want to hold them to the same standards and pay them less. This is Americanism at its finsest. I want the best, but don't want to pay more for it. I am sorry people but if you want better teachers, you must pay for them.

      December 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Dawne

      Most states do require new teachers and teacher candidates to take these tests regardless of the route they take to teach. I took the West-B so that I could pursue my teaching degree. Then, I took both the K-8 and Special Ed West E because I am a special ed teacher. These tests, in addition to several internships, student teaching, and a masters degree were all necessary so that I could be considered highly qualified as a teacher. Now in addition to all these tests, I have to complete a Professional Certification portfolio and submit it to my state board of education to prove that in addition to all these tests, my education, and my time in the classroom that I can in fact actually teach. I am frustrated by the continual onslaught of criticism launched against teachers in the media. Where are the articles about the wonderful things teachers do each and every day in the classroom? Furthermore, when an article like this is written why is it generalized to give the appearance that teachers are simply handed the keys to a classroom. I worked long and hard to become a teacher and I work hard each and every day to be the best possible teacher to my students. Quite frankly I am tired of the media portraying teachers in a negative way.

      December 4, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  51. krehator

    My parents were not involved with my education in any form, yet I still did well because I had BETTER teachers. They did their job instead of making excuses for failing.

    December 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • analgogkid

      @ krehator – Your anecdotal evidence does little to convince me that you received a superior education compared to modern kids nor does it convinced that your teachers were superior. Do you have any statistics about a larger population than just yourself. Perhaps you can show me where graduations rates have plummeted since you went to school. Maybe SAT and ACT scores have fallen off since you got your degree. Maybe fewer and fewer people are attending college nowadays. I think that you will find that none of those scenarios are true. It feels good and its simple to say that things used to be better but finding actual data rather than a feeling is awfully hard to do.

      December 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
  52. chrichalant

    Teaching is more than a profession as one might see: can the test establish the behavior and mood range of a teacher?

    December 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  53. Thor

    Well, student teaching semesters used to be required of student teachers. If one could not do your "student teaching" then you did not get certified. I guess the standards that teachers have for student teaching has degraded so much that teachers cannot be trusted anymore! That is typical.... I recall very few teachers who actually contributed to my learning. Self taught is the way to go. We do not need teachers.

    December 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • RenaissanceMan


      December 4, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  54. Ann

    We do have an exam. Back then, the NTE, and now, the PRAXIS.

    December 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  55. debbyv

    Mind you the high school was public. They were trying to dummy down even in the sixties.

    December 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  56. lets get real

    What needs an "entry bar" is parenting. The biggest problem with the school system is the parents lack of involvement in their childrens education.

    December 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • krehator

      Strange........cuz parents were less involved in the past, yet the quality of education was better back then.

      When a kid makes it all the way through high school but still cannot read, that is a WHOLE BUNCH of teachers failing.

      Excuses are a dime a dozen. Do you help me with my job??????????

      December 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
      • Realist

        You can't be serious right? I don't know what schools you have visited but most schools now are not allowed to hold students back, I think it's called the "no child left behind act," Maybe you should really look into why theses kids are passed on because believe me if your job was predicated on how many failed projects you had, all be it that it wasn't your fault that the clients were rude with no respect for any one, but you were still fired because they didnt want to do what you said, you would pass them on to the next coworker and that cycle would continue. You are not a teacher and neither am I but its a lot different when you are in someone else's shoes.

        December 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
      • Eileen

        I parents raise a child with no discipline, a teacher must first deal with the child's behavior before being able to teach anything. Plus these students take the teachers attention away from the children who are well-behaved enough to actually learn something. Class sizes used to be bigger because teachers attention was not dominated by a few out of control children.

        December 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  57. debbyv

    Yes college level by 4th grade. I was one of them in 1959, thank you Catholic School. By the time I got to high school the subjects that were required to graduate I had studied in 5th-8th grade. Breezed through high school.

    December 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • RenaissanceMan

      There's something called "progress" that grips civilization by the throat and forces it to either come along or die. The Civil Rights movements were passed in the sixties. Do you think the passing of those laws had an all-encompassing, instantaneous effect that equalized education for all children regardless of gender, race, creed, family income, or district resources? What was your family demographic in terms of these criteria? If you think none of it matters, then you're selling foolishness and looking for a bigger dupe to buy it.

      December 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  58. Annette Lueck

    As a student in Wisconsin, I am just wondering then why have the two Praxis tests, added with an additional reading test and a video taped student teaching? What is the need for four tests, it seems they could be combined. Also, is this test suggesting college education programs are not suitably preparing future teachers?

    December 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  59. Wallace Freeman

    In Texas we already have a test that aspiring teachers are required to pass. If anything, the test is too easy judging from some of the folks that call themselves teachers. An objective and VALID test, with no affirmative action for incompetents would be nice but I won't hold my breath.

    December 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Name Ella Moore

      You should try the Praxis II content based exam. I used the MCAT study guide to help me prepare. I found the MCAT easier. Many comments are being made by people who are not aware of the current standards by many states.

      December 4, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • krehator

      I live in Texas. The schools are the bottom of the barrel. Math and science are not very important apparently. BUT of course, teaching Texas history is #1 priority. A bogus history btw.

      December 4, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  60. FinnGoDo

    I hope one of the questions on this proposed test is;

    Do you believe in science/evolution?

    December 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  61. Mrs. P

    Would their pay be based on their score?

    December 4, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • ilomilo

      I would applaud salary based on merit instead of the current system of automatically granting tenure to teachers after just 3 years (at least in some states).

      December 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  62. pamodonnell

    It's a start. What about teachers who are already teaching? Would they have to take this test? I honestly think the problem is more a structural one. Telling children how to learn, what to learn and when to learn it is half the problem. When my son was in 4th grade and complaining about having to do fractions over, and over and over again to prove he already knew how to do the work drove him nuts. Children don't learn the way they're taught in schools. And we have been teaching them the same way for 100 years. When 20-50% of grade school kids present with some form of ADHD, ADD, autism etc.. it's time to start teaching them the way they learn, not the way that's convenient for teachers and administrators. It's not that we've forgotten that it's about the kids. It's that we've never considered that it's about them.

    December 4, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  63. 8conor8

    Those that teach education, teach an idealized approach to education. This educational approach is beneficial, but it is also fairly theoretical (i.e. it doesn't all work in real world settings). I don't know if there is anything out there that can prepare you for the classroom, and all that entails making a teacher and what teachers deal with/go through. A teacher is many things: classroom management, behavior management, topic mastery, lesson planning (with IEP, differentation, etc.), dealing with administration, dealing with parents, grading, being an advocate and security source for children, and on top of that trying to have a somewhat normal life. Teaching is a demanding and maddening occupation, and it can beat you up physically, mentally, emotionally and in some cases spiritually. Teaching is a job that many can not do. From what I've seen in multiple sources and states, your first year teaching is like triage. It is only after a year in the fire that you start to get an idea if you, or someone else can succeed. How in the world do you test that?

    December 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  64. rad666

    How about an entry bar exam for parents.............................................

    December 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • krehator

      Must be a teacher. That is their song and dance – blame the parents for teachers FAILING to do THEIR job.

      December 4, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
      • Realist

        You must be one of those parents with the blinders on. " My child's an angel and would never do that." Go suck on a lemon.

        December 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
      • kristin

        Must be a parent with a child causing problems or have been one yourself. Parent /kid blaming all thier failures on teachers that see them for usually 50 to 60 minutes a day. I take responsibility for the kind of children my sons turn out to be. No one els will love them, teach them or shape them more then me. Nor would I want them too.

        December 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  65. HarrisonBergeron

    I don't see a problem with standardising the licensing of teachers so long as it is done carefully. If we can raise the standards to the extent that it increases the quality of the education students receive, teachers should also receive a significant raise. It's appalling that one of the most important roles in our society comes with a paycheck that just barely keeps these folks and their families above the poverty line.

    December 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  66. larry5

    The test would have to be carefully structured because if a teacher failed the test and could not work it would infer that they would no longer be paying dues. The questions would have to go something like this, "If Johnny had one apple and Jane gave Johnny another apple how many apples would Johnny now have?" There would have to be three choices for the answer, "Two, Two, Two". In this case the union could give the test to the teacher with the confidence that they could retain a dues paying member. We must remember that the teacher's union is all about members paying dues. The union leaders have heard that teachers deal with schools and students but they're not sure what that means. Their focus is on collecting dues and fostering relations with Liberal politicians that can with a little help see the light. If they do create a standardized test maybe someone could show the union leaders a picture of a school or some students and explain where the teachers go during the day.

    December 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Lauren

      I disagree with you on so many levels...

      If you give a teacher a test with the question you described above and they cannot answer that, then there is a problem. This is not about union dues, this is about the quality of the education for children in america. It is a proposal based on the fact that teachers are hired through alternative certification requirements where they have no experience in education and are immediately placed in a classroom and figure it out. This is not a proposal to have current teachers stop paying dues because they are taking a test. You completely misunderstood the entire article as well as the proposal by the AFT. Although there can be critique to their proposal, your critique is incorrect, uneducated, and only leads me to believe that you should have taken a "bar like" exam to be able to post on the CNN blog to prevent such a dumb response.

      December 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • larry5

      I think you missed that shadow that just flew over your head. I think that teachers need to work in their trade for a while before they become certified. Being certified by answering questions tells us nothing about their ability to perform in the classroom. The teacher's union collects dues. They should go back to the old apprentice, journeyman, master steps and do the job some unions used to do years ago when certification meant something a member could be proud of.

      December 4, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
      • Thor

        Pretty big shadow! LOL!

        December 4, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  67. Vdrummin

    My Sister is a Teacher and she has been going to school all her life; she has a Master's degree and is still having to get credits for teaching; I don't beleive Techers should have to do anymore; why don't the Parents take a test to see if they are aiding in their childs education. Teacher's are under paid, always blamed, and it's it's a shame.

    December 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  68. bob

    Finally! I know quite a few teachers, who were classmates of mine, who would not be able to pass the most basic of standardized tests. Its about time we start holding the teachers accountable for the fledgling quality of education in America.

    December 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • CuriousG

      I agree. Some teachers have no business being in that kind of position. Also, for those who say, teachers are way under paid, below poverty level, bull. They are getting paid for 9 months of work, the fact that they elect to receive their pay over 12 months is fringe benefit. I wish I could work for my annual pay in just 9 months, then I'd take on a part-time job for extra pay.

      December 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
      • a teacher

        The allotment of a teacher's salary has absolutely nothing to do with it. Yes, teachers elect to have the meager amount they are paid distributed over 12 months because it makes better financial sense. Yes, teachers technically work for less than 12 months (9 months is inaccurate though – I don't know any teachers who do not work over the summer, over every holiday break, and most nights after "school hours." The idea that a good teacher only works while school is in session reflects a basic ignorance of the profession and our education system in general. That being said, even if we take into account the idea that teachers work less than twelve months, we are not addressing the issue: if we want quality teachers for our children, if we want to continously raise the standards and requirements for teacher certification, then we must pay teachers enough to support themselves. I have two children and if I were a single parent, I would not be able to pay for my kids to go to day care and come to work. I literally would be better off sitting at home collecting welfare. I teach because I am passionate about teaching and fortunate enough to have a husband who can support our family. Our system is horribly flawed.

        December 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
      • Kevin

        Only someone without a fundamental understanding of interest would call the fact that schools force teachers to not be paid while they work (12 month distribution) a "fringe benefit." You must be one of those students who slept through econ. class. At some point are we going to recognize that we may not really be failing our students in this country. Very few posters on here are of the age where calculus was a "regular" track course. Our best students still fill the best universities in the world–it's only natural that other nations would make up some ground as they enter new stages of their demographic transition. Perhaps we should consider why we are the only nation that props up our low students instead of channeling them into more purposeful directions while the advanced continue to drive our nation forward with the advanced education we are already capable of providing them with.

        December 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
      • ilomilo

        a teacher, What about your argument for higher pay would automatically make you a better teacher? If you speak the truth that you are a teacher because you are passionate, then money shouldn't be your motivation. Furthermore, it's a far cry for you to say that you would be better off sitting home collecting welfare, whatever your salary amount. The only point I agree with you on is that our system is horribly flawed.

        I agree with Mace: unions are a contributing factor to the flaws in our system, as they are more motivated by serving teacher's interest first under the guise of improving our educational system.

        Also, as a teacher you clearly should be required to take the exam. Last I checked "continously" is spelled continuously.

        December 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
      • a teacher

        ilomilo – You miss my point entirely. I never said getting paid more would make me a better teacher. It would, however, enable me to continue teaching if I had to solely rely on my salary to support myself and my family. I was being hyperbolic when I made the welfare statement. My point was that it would be IMPOSSIBLE for me to send my kids to day care and keep working if I did not have my husband's salary. How many great teachers are we missing out on because they truly can't support themselves on a teaching salary? Also, if you know anything about our education system, you know that teachers ARE required to take multiple exams. Again, I never stated that teachers should not be tested. I simply said that if we, as a nation, are going to continue piling on tests and requirements WITHOUT raising teachers' salaries, we are going to lose some great teachers who will elect to do other things.

        I appreciate your correction on my spelling. I know there are many people out there who delight in nothing more than finding errors and flaws in teachers. Thanks for proving my point.

        December 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
      • iliomilo

        a teacher – We live in a country where people can choose their careers. Many people are faced with the option of working while struggling to pay for day care or staying at home. Unless you have a myopic view on this national problem, you would know that this dilemma is not limited to your chosen industry.

        Again, why do you equate salary to attracting great teachers? Do you honestly believe that only the best and brightest teachers would apply if the salary were raised? Following that logic, then all industries that pay well should attract great people, yet salary hardly equates greatness. Also, following that logic, you wouldn't be teaching. I would wager that a higher salary would only encourage a larger pool of applicants, and not all necessarily great. Consequently, in order to determine who among them are the most qualified, higher standards and requirements would be required, placing us back in this same exact predicament.

        When's the last time you honestly heard of some "great teacher" giving up their tenure and their pension to pursue a career that pays higher, aside from you speaking on your soapbox in hyperbolic statements? In fact, the reverse is often true, where people from the private sector leave to enter the educational industry. Clearly, we are not lacking for people vying for these teaching positions. The reason we lack quality teachers is because the system is flawed, as you stated earlier. Unions should be abolished along with tenure, which is an archaic system. Where's the motivation for teachers to provide the best for our students? If you're telling me it's money in their pockets, then that doesn't bode well for the outlook of our young students. And really isn't that what the take away should be from this article – how to best provide for our students – instead of your desired salary?

        December 5, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Ron

      Yes! Teachers AND parents. My spouse and my 3 best friends are retired teachers: they left not because of the children but because of the irresponsible parents.

      December 4, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  69. Tracie LAne

    What is PRAXIS then?

    December 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Teri

      Most 8th graders should be able to pass the basic PRAXIS test. It is very, very, very easy.

      December 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
      • Ashley

        Praxis and the Praxis ii content exams are very different tests. Good luck tryingto pass the content exam without knowing your stuff

        December 4, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
      • NCteacher

        I agree that the Praxis 1 is easy- I didnt have to open a book to study for it.

        The content one though? One of only three all-nighters I pulled in college was the night before that exam. I studied my content for weeks, and hours per day in the week leading up to the exam- while I was student teaching. The 9-12 Science exam was no joke- with 40% being chemistry and physics [and my concentrated field being biology], I had to brush up on stuff I had not seen in class in over a year or more. I agree with Ashley- you can't pass that unless you really know your content!

        December 5, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  70. Mace

    This union is a contributing factor to the problems we are facing in education!

    December 4, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Teri

      Yes, because requiring teachers to write a complete sentence and do simple math is just plain wrong. I quickly pulled my child from public school her kindergarten year because her teacher sent out a memo to the parents. The teacher could not spell basic words or write a complete sentence. These were NOT typographical errors. Pulling her out of there was the best decision I ever made. She was scoring college level by 4th grade. Yet, my next-door neighbor's daughter, who is a straight-A student and in the 8th grade honor society, has a hard-time reading and can't add simple fractions. Too many public schools these days try to appease the parents by putting the kids in an honor society or ensuring they make good grades on their report cards. This has NOTHING to do with the unions. It is done by the top-brass in the school systems who want to keep the parents happy and blindsided until Little Johnny learns he can't get accepted to a college or gets to college and realizes he is behind and has to take remedial classes to catch up.

      December 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
      • Name*Tony

        Teri, your story smells like bullzhet or your child is a prodigy.

        December 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
      • a teacher

        College level by fourth grade? Based on what? I am laughing at the absolute ridiculousness of this post.

        December 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
      • Justin

        Ok... Negating the kids being described... The test of the story is true... Schools these days are to concerned with passing rates than what the kids really know... failing= less funding for schools so there are told to pass kids who shouldn't be passed for the almighty dollar... And to keep patents happy

        December 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
      • 8conor8

        @ Justin - That isn't teachers. That is the work of the influence of parents, politicians and school administrations....not teachers.

        December 5, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  71. da Ghost

    I've had more than a handful of teachers that wouldn't have passed a basic exam and known people without a college education that would have qualified as great teachers. I work in engineering and see kidz coming out of colleges today without any work ethics and limited knowledge in their field, book smart-yes maybe, qualified to be engineers in their field ? No way !
    If we require an exam, students will gear towards passing the exam and will again, be book-smart, and knowledge idiots !

    December 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • PistolPete

      I spent 34 years teaching in the community college system. The pressure from administrators to give students passing grades was enormous. Many times my former dean told me that she had no intention of rocking the boat and didn't want unhappy students calling her. I will never step foot in another American classroom again.

      December 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  72. Julie Carr

    In my state, teachers are already required to take a standardized professional exam before being licensed to teach, as well as have an entry level year with periodic observations, evaluations, etc. After that, teachers are still yearly required to complete 30 plus hours of staff development, continued education,etc in order to maintain that certification.

    December 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • FinnGoDo

      I agree- a lot of states already have tests. Something like this would standardize it nationwide and replace those.

      December 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
      • soundnfury

        Some of the most brilliant people I know have no teaching skills and should never be in a classroom, and some of those with the most average of intelligence turn out to become the best teachers because they understand people and the process of learning. The tests are a great measure of "booksmarts" and "test-taking skills" but I have yet to see an adequate test that adequately measures such an abstract skill as teaching well. Whether they give a new test or not, it's only red tape and fixes nothing.

        December 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Name Ella Moore

      Carr I hear you. Let's focus on the fact that my district purchased ipads for all the higher ups yet I don't have any chemicals to teach chemistry. The test requirement is another way to make someone else who is not in the classroom rich.

      December 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm |