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Retain Teachers’ Exam, Rankin Tells School Board Idaho Has Dropped Standardized Testing Requirement

The Coeur d’Alene School District should retain the National Teachers Exam even though the state is dropping it as a requirement for teacher certification, Ron Rankin told the school board Tuesday.

“This was the last safeguard,” said Rankin, president of the Kootenai County Property Owners Association. “This was the last remaining test for teachers. The district can require it.”

Rankin told the board that the test is necessary in order to protect children from incompetent teachers.

The Idaho Board of Education ruled last week to drop the test at the request of the state Professional Standards Commission.

The test now is used only in 13 states. Idaho was among three states to require the test for all teacher candidates.

The standards commission, the Idaho Association of College Teacher Educators and the Idaho Education Association have all opposed the test as the sole criteria for judging the suitability of teachers.

The commission contends that studies of the test show little or no correlation between scores and classroom performance. The test also has been widely criticized for racial and gender bias.

“The bias does not reflect on the test-taker, but rather on the test-maker,” Charles Hayes, chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee wrote to the Board of Education. “There are many Nez Perce college students whom we would love to have teach here at home.”

Monica Beaudoin, IEA president, said, “Most states are going away from it because of the exact reason Idaho is. It’s not a test that verifies anything.”

Also, the test would be costly for the district to administer on its own, Beaudoin said.

Coeur d’Alene schools superintendent Doug Cresswell said he had “no idea” of what it would cost to administer the test locally.

Other requirements for teacher certification would remain in effect, such as graduation from an accredited college of education, said Curtis Eaton, chairman of the state Board of Education.

Another critic of the test, The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, said the judge of a good teacher should be the college.

“The state should take measures to make sure the colleges are doing a good job, rather than relying on a one-time event,” said Monty Neill, a spokesman for the center.

Beaudoin said she expects new requirements from the state, such as onsite evaluations or other forms of examination. The state board, however, did not direct that any new certification requirements be developed.

Rankin is skeptical that the quality control will be sufficient without a standardized test.

“It’s the kids that are going to suffer for it,” he said.

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