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What Does it Mean to ‘Raise the Bar’ for Entry Into the Teaching Profession?

Education Next – Chad Aldeman

“In a report last spring, Ashley LiBetti Mitchel and I wrote that there’s simply no magic cocktail of teacher preparation program requirements or personal characteristics that will guarantee someone becomes a great teacher. Since we wrote that report, there’s been even more evidence showing the same thing. I like pictures, so I’m going to pull some key graphics to help illustrate one basic point: There’s really no definitive way to tell who’s going to be a good teacher before they start teaching. First, there’s a lot of interest in “raising the bar” for the teaching profession. It’s not clear what this means exactly, but at root it implies that if we could somehow just recruit better people to become teachers, then “poof!” we’d have better teachers. “Better” can be defined in multiple ways, but 46 states and the District of Columbia use some form of the Praxis assessments to set a minimum bar for entry into the teaching profession. The “Praxis I” was a set of assessments focused on reading, writing, and mathematics content, and a 1999 analysis found its questions were roughly as difficult as what we ask of most high schoolers. The “Praxis II” encompasses a wide variety of subject-specific tests. The tests have been renamed, but most states still require teachers to pass the successors of the original Praxis tests.”(more)

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