Competency Test for Teachers

The article (Editorial Pages, June 4) by Denis P. Doyle and Terry W. Hartle, advocating a competency test for teachers, prompts me to write. It is ludicrous to suppose that a national teachers' test will greatly improve the quality of education in the nation's classrooms. The concept of setting up "objective" evaluation standards for teachers is idealistic, but fatally flawed.

Recent research indicates that standardized tests that are now administered to prospective lawyers, dentists and civil servants or to certify firefighters, stockbrokers and even nurses, are not predictors for "success." In the case of a competency test for teachers, such an examination would be unable to measure research abilities, motivation, creativity or character.

While such testing can be helpful (perhaps, to bring a sense of professionalism to teaching once again), the problems confronting today's teachers are far too complex. Not only are they complex, but they also are deeply rooted in the fabric of American society.

Anything other than a national commitment will have very little impact on the current crisis. The commitment must involve the three segments of society directly affected by the schools.

Young people must begin to see the schools as places where they are going to begin to acquire the skills necessary to become productive individuals. Many young people today see the schools as social outlets, rather than learning centers. In this vein, many parents see the schools as temporary places where they can send their children. There is no real commitment on their part to see that schools are offering their children a quality type education. Their attitude is one of complete apathy!

Finally, the teachers themselves will have to aggressively move to "clean their own houses." Unless they move quickly, their credibility will continue to sink and the nation's educational system will hit rock bottom. At that point, politicians and or the courts will likely impose so many conditions on the school systems that they will collapse from the sheer weight of the bureaucratic red tape. Perhaps, it would be best to rethink the concept of imposing a competency test for those seeking to enter the teaching profession.


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