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Michigan Axes Basic Skills Test for Teachers

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Michigan lawmakers axed a requirement that would make prospective teachers take a basic skills test before earning their certification in Michigan.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation last week to get rid of the law requiring all prospective teachers to take the SAT to become certified in the state of Michigan, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“The basic skills test … is not a strong indicator of how successful a teacher will be,” said Sen. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy), one of the sponsors of the bipartisan-supported legislation.

Knollenberg, who serves as the state Senate Education Committee chair, said the panel made its decision to make it easier for people to become teachers.

“To me, the good teachers — they’re inspired and have passion. Why should they be burdened with a test that isn’t relevant to the subject matter they teach?” Knollenberg said, adding that the previous system was not an accurate way to “measure competency” in a subject.

National Council on Teacher Quality President Kate Walsh pushed back on the decision Friday, arguing that there needs to be a basic standard for teachers in this country.

“You do need to assess if candidates have basic skills. Can they read and write and are they mathematically literate? There should be some entry standard that’s objective,” Walsh said.

The examination was one of two tests teachers had to take to teach in Michigan. The other test measures competency in the subject matter prospective teachers plan to teach. The second test is still a requirement for those who want to enter the teaching profession in Michigan.

The law would begin to take effect September 25.

Michigan teachers have struggled to hire teachers in STEM fields such as math and science, foreign languages, and special education. The number of teaching certificates issued in the state dropped by nearly half from 1996 to 2016, and the state has resorted to “wining and dining” prospective teachers to convince them to enter the profession.

 

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