|GRADING THE GRADERS
Is teacher testing the best way to improve academic achievement?
October 1, 1998
in this forum:
Questions asked in this forum: Can the public view these tests? What is the best way to assess teachers' abilities? Who creates the tests, and are they fair? Additional Comments.
September 15, 1998
Massachussets institutes a controversial teacher testing plan.
September 17, 1997
Online NewsHour Forum:two Senators debate national education standards.
September 8, 1997:
Are standardized tests the best route to better grades?
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of Education.
The Department of Education
A question from Lisa Krakin of Baltimore, MD :
How much does teacher testing cost? It seems to me that the disgracefully low salaries we pay teachers are the reason the profession loses so much talent every year-- the teachers that leave, and the individuals who don't even consider teaching because they can make triple at another job. Are resources being allocated wisely in this matter?
Dr. John Silber, the chancellor of Boston University and chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education, answers:
Teaching candidates pay $150 to take the Communication and Literacy Test and one subject matter test on the same day. There are additional fees for persons who seek certification in more than one subject area. These fees cover nearly all of the costs of developing and administering the tests.
Teachers who failed the certification tests Massachusetts required in April and June are unlikely to make double or triple the teacher's salary at another job. As a matter of fact, those who failed the examination will be very fortunate if they can match at another job the beginning teacher's salary in Massachusetts, which is $26,540.
The question overlooks a very important concern: the purpose of the tests is to protect children who cannot receive quality educational opportunities if their teachers are not fully qualified.
When this test is used to raise standards and improve the quality of teaching in Massachusetts, the public may be persuaded to pay teachers higher salaries.
Teachers' salaries should certainly be raised, but persons do not go into teaching primarily for money. For most teachers it is a vocation--a calling. And from observations I have made and from letters I have received, I don't believe persons leave teaching primarily because of financial reasons. They know the financial realities before they accept teaching positions.
The most common complaints that I have heard are these: disruption and confusion in the classroom, the inability to remove unruly and disrespectful students, the requirement to pass everyone without regard to whether they fulfill their responsibilities or not, and criticism for doing more than the least motivated teachers in their school do. Peer pressure from less ambitious and less dedicated teachers is frequently cited as a reason for giving up a teaching career.