No Teacher Left Behind

It’s become a little easier for public schools to screen out bad teachers.

Education Commissioner Deborah Gist has a plan to raise the minimum test scores for aspiring teachers, according to The Providence Journal:

Currently, Rhode Island ranks among the lowest in the nation, alongside Mississippi and Guam, with cut scores in math, reading and writing set at 170 in each subject. At that score, about 30 percent of test-takers in Rhode Island fail the test, called Praxis I or the PPST, pre-professional skills test.

By next fall, teachers will have to earn a 175 in math and reading and a 173 in writing. The following year, the corresponding minimum scores will be 179 and 177, at the top of the country. This seems like a no-brainer to us: who wouldn’t want the cream of the crop teaching in the classroom? Well, Rhode Island College Dean of Education Roger Eldridge for one:

Eldridge opposes raising the scores that high, saying the change could have a dramatic impact on the size of teacher training programs next year, particularly at RIC, which trains about 375 new teachers a year.

“I was always in favor of raising them, but not as high as 179,” Eldridge said. “I can live with 175. That’s fine.” Eldridge estimates his program could shrink by as much as 40 percent next year, but says the college is taking steps to mitigate a steep drop in the number of teaching students.

Of course, one could always do a better job of training the teachers – an idea which finally dawns upon this dean of education toward the end of the article. Or, one could always find a way of attracting higher-caliber student teachers. But don’t count on the dean to do that. He seems more interested in keeping enrollment high.


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