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American Federation of Teachers wants instructors to pass a bar-like exam

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 06, 2012 17:06 PM

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are designed to ensure that students are graduating from high school with the knowledge and skills they will need in order to succeed, whether in a collegiate setting or in the workforce. However, in order for pupils to receive rigorous K-12 instruction, they require teachers who themselves have been rigorously trained.

This is why the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) believes that all educators should have to pass a test that would be just as rigorous as the bar exam individuals must pass before they can practice law.

"School systems are raising the bar for students through the widespread adoption of the internationally benchmarked Common Core State Standards; we must do the same for teachers," said Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, in a press release.

In a new AFT report, titled "Raising the Bar – Aligning and Elevating Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession," the AFT Teacher Preparation Task Force urges measures that would ensure every instructor is ready to teach. According to the report, the creation of a universal entry assessment could make achieving this goal possible. As prospective educators answer questions related to subjects like pedagogical knowledge, they would be proving just how prepared they are for a career as a competent teacher.

The adoption of the CCSS in 45 states is one reason why teachers must be held to higher standards. Another is the fact that many educators simply are not as confident as they should be at the outset of their teaching careers. Based on responses to a 2012 Peter D. Hart Research Associates survey of 500 novice K-12 public school instructors, one in three of these individuals said they felt unprepared on their first day on the job. The survey respondents reported that they were not prepared well enough to teach in the "real world."

"It's time to do away with a common rite of passage into the teaching profession - whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they and their students sink or swim," Weingarten said. "This is unfair to both students and their teachers, who care so much but who want and need to feel competent and confident to teach from their first day on the job."