Teacher Certification

September 15, 2000

Talk about teacher certification has been in the news for years, and I have always wondered how effective certification exams would be and how hard they would be. Well, I got part of the answer from a recent story by a New York Times reporter who took New York state's main certification exam for teachers.

In her August 23 story, she explained that she had not taken a standardized test in 14 years and had virtually no preparation. She admits to having failed pre-calculus in high school. She also took no science after 10th grade chemistry. Nevertheless, she scored 284 out of a possible 300. By the way, 220 is passing. So she did quite well on the test.

She got a perfect score in math and science. But she was mortified to report that her worst score was 260, and she received it on the essay portion of the test. That was still a passing score, but I guess you might expect a New York Times reporter to do better than that. By the way, of the 4314 people who took the test, 59 percent failed.

This story was reported in the communique of the Education Intelligence Agency. The author recounts his own experience taking the California Basic Educational Skills Test. He scored 205 out of a possible 240. Yes, and his worst score was in writing.

The state claims that 70 percent of test-takers pass on the first try, with 82 to 85 percent eventually passing. But according to trial testimony, the first-time passing rate breaks down to 80 percent for whites, 47 percent for Hispanics, and 37 percent for blacks.

I'm sure you are as disturbed by these numbers as I am. It appears that some of the teacher certification tests aren't as difficult as we might think, and yet a high percentage of teachers do not pass the tests anyway.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.