June 21, 2006
The U.S. Department of Education recently laid the smack down on Iowa, threatening to severely limit its federal funding if it didn't make new elementary school teachers pass a standardized test, as required by NCLB's "highly qualified teachers" provision. Pinned to the mat, state education officials will require all teacher candidates to take and pass the Praxis II beginning in 2007. This is no ominous threat. Iowa has some terrific colleges, and the Praxis II is hardly a taxing exam. (For a look at how poorly it measures a teacher's ability to teach reading, for example, see here.) Yet some Iowans are fuming over the test's $100 fee. "It doesn't sound like a lot of money," said Jenna Conn, a senior elementary education major at the University of Iowa, "but teachers are paid crap." (N.B.: Jenna assures us that she would never use this word in the classroom.) Other undergrads disagree. Ashley Brink, an Iowa State University senior, supports teacher testing: "I know a lot of kids who went to college to be teachers who drank their way through." Jenna, stay out of Iowa City's bars. You'll have that Benjamin Franklin in no time.
"New teachers will have to pass test," by Lisa Rossi, Des Moines Register, June 16, 2006