Tough teacher certification test gets mixed reviews

This month, university students looking to teach in Michigan took a new, more rigorous teacher certification test. It was first administered last October and pass rates fell from 82 percent to 26 percent. All education majors have to take the test to become student teachers.

The purpose of the test and the test itself is getting mixed reviews.

State Superintendent Mike Flanagan says increasing the required test scores will put the best teachers in the classroom. He says the test is working and there are no plans to revamp it.

Some administrators and test takers aren’t as supportive of the change.

They don’t believe the test should be the only requirement for becoming a teacher. Their concern centers on relationship skills and the ability to connect with students that can’t be measured by a standardized assessment.

Nancy Flanagan, 1993 Michigan Teacher of the Year, shares the concern over the test. She doesn’t believe failing 74 percent of students, many close to completing their degree, serves any purpose. “The only purpose of doing this is to set the bar higher and to ‘demonstrate’ that some institutions aren’t doing a good job,” Flanagan said.

And she points out that the best test-takers don’t always make the best teachers. “It will give you candidates who do better on tests, but those aren’t always candidates who can manage a classroom or design engaging lessons. And those are really the building blocks of good practice.”

Students can take the test again several times. But students who fail the test have to wait two months to retake it. In the meantime, they are not allowed to student teach.