Saturday, March 18, 2017

Why Do We Hire Illiterate Teachers?

32 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?

The 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 anymore?

Apparently 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.

So 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 test-takers?

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?

Another 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.

Some argued the literacy test was redundant since these applicants already had college degrees.  Well, obviously they didn’t learn all that was required.

So 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.

The 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.

I’m 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.

This 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.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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