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Delay in teacher certification tests just a sop to unions

Delay in teacher certification tests just a sop to unions

Dumbed-down test a disgrace

Law students who flunk the bar exam don't get to practice law until they pass it.

Same deal with other professions in which testing is required for certification.

But then again, not all professions are represented by the biggest political donors in the state.

So that's why prospective teachers in New York state who fail the state's certification assessment will get an additional two years to get it right. In the meantime, those educators only will be required to pass a much easier written exam to obtain certification.

The delay — approved Tuesday by the Board of Regents after vocal appeals from the state's teachers' unions — is unfair both to current teachers who pass the full assessment and to students being taught by those unable to prove their competency without a special break.

The new teacher assessment, formally called "edTPA," was announced in 2012 and implemented last year, but colleges were alerted in 2009 that an assessment was coming. The edTPA includes both a written and video component designed to demonstrate the practical knowledge and skills required to help students learn in real classrooms. It's already used in more than 30 states. The assessment, which incorporates Common Core teaching, has been characterized as tough but fair. Even those who entered teacher-education programs before the assessment was required have endorsed it.

The passage rate for this year's full assessment was 82 percent, comparable to the 80 percent passage rate for the bar exam. That's a sign the assessment is not unusually difficult or easy. The passage rate for the new written exam agreed to by the Regents on Tuesday is about 98 percent.

But because a handful of teacher candidates had trouble fulfilling the video component and because union representatives claim that five years is not enough notice for teaching colleges to adjust their curricula, the New York State United Teachers and the United University Professions sought a delay. The state's beleaguered education commissioner, John King — who has been subject to union criticism over the new Common Core standards — reluctantly agreed to the deal in order to mend his relationship with the teachers.

If the state's goal is to place fully qualified teachers in the classroom, then all new teachers should be required to demonstrate proficiency equally. If the public is going to demand that students adapt to new stringent standards, it must demand the same of teachers.

This delay in full implementation of the teacher assessment is a political concession that only postpones the state's efforts to improve our education system.

Once again, politics wins out over kids.

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