Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State address last week, called for a "bar exam" to be put in place for teachers, but local school district superintendents are not convinced the proposed test will have an added benefit for students.
The idea behind the exam, at the recommendation of the New NY Education Reform Commission, is "to emphasize that teachers are professionals and should be held to the highest standards from the start."
“I think that’s a good sound bite ...," Southampton School District Superintendent J. Richard Boyes, Ed.D., said. "In principle, the idea for having a single exam you have to pass sounds good — a rigorous exam. I get it."
But Dr. Boyes noted that teachers in New York State are already required to become certified.
Before he could judge whether a bar exam is a good plan, he said he wants to know what it would look like, and whether it would really be an improvement. “I just haven’t seen enough details,” he said. “I don’t know how it looks different that what we have now.”
Bridgehampton Superintendent Lois Favre, Ed.D., pointed out, "There aren’t too many teachers in New York State that didn’t have to pass exams to secure certification in teaching profession, not to mention secure a master’s degree to keep that certification, and now ongoing professional development is required."
Favre said she has been fortunate to work with the best and brightest during her career. "I have no objection to assuring excellence in this, the greatest profession," she said. "Increasing admissions standards, and testing is all well and good, as long as we do not overlook the other, more important qualification — the one that assures that first and foremost the professional cares about students — not the money, not the status, but the whole child."
Cuomo's proposal insinuates that there are not great teachers in classrooms now, Favre said, adding, "this is simply not the case. I could tell you some wonderful stories, of success, passion, commitment — to the whole child."
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