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Saturday, March 18, 2017
Why Do We Hire Illiterate Teachers?
million Americans are illiterate. Yes, 1
in 10 people in the United States cannot read or function at a level we expect
an adult to be at. One of the reasons we have underachieving students is that they are taught by teachers who lack certain
skills and proficiencies. Now New York
State wants to do away with a literacy exam for teacher certification. Why?
Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST) was only introduced four years ago, to
ensure that aspiring instructors across the state possessed strong language
skills. Are those skills not needed
critics felt the test was, for whatever reason, lowering the pool of eligible
teaching candidates. In the first year
of testing, there was a plunge of 20% in the number of eligible teachers
because they failed the test.
let me get this right. Because the test
weeded out people who obviously were not qualified to be teachers, they did away
with the test? Blame the test, not the
dumbing down of standards – both in the classroom for students – and in the
filtering arena for potential teachers – is alarming and disturbing. How will we ever get better students if we
don’t offer them better teachers?
complaint was the literacy test failed black and Latino applicants at a
disproportionately higher rate than whites.
However, it was not pointed out in any of the stories that I read as to
why this was. Was there inherent bias in
the test itself – or are minority candidates less qualified than others? According to state data, 61% of those who took the literacy test have passed it. But there were racial disparities: 38% of blacks passed. 46% of Hispanics passed. 53% of Asians passed. 69% of whites passed.
argued the literacy test was redundant since these applicants already had
college degrees. Well, obviously they
didn’t learn all that was required.
this iswhat we do when a challenge is too difficult, we just abolish the test or
water it down? When the standards are
compromised, society suffers.
State Board of Regents claims several education experts found the ALST to be an
unreliable indicator of language skills and teaching ability, that the test was
somehow structurally flawed.
Supposedly, candidates to become teachers will still have to exhibit knowledge and teaching
proficiency before they can be certified.
To replace the ALST, a revised testing system will expand in order to
encompass reading and writing assessment.
sure that will only last if enough people pass it, otherwise we’ll again see a
change until enough subpar individuals get to teach our children and dilute the
education system for the next generation.
latest change gets a failing grade and all Americans should feel shortchanged
and outraged. We can’t expect perfection
but we should not rig the system to guarantee that weak, unqualified people get
the keys to our kids’ minds.