The Minnesota State Legislature recently received recommendations on the possible direction of the state’s teacher licensing process. The recommendations are the product of a “Teacher Licensure Advisory Task Force” that was the result of legislation passed during the 2013 Legislative Session. Senator Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield) was one of four legislators on the 20-member task force.
“The task force put a lot of hard work and discussion into these recommendations,” said Sen. Dahle. “During this process, we heard from a number of school administrators who testified that our current flawed tests are keeping them from hiring otherwise great teachers. The task force decided that the ‘license by Scantron’ approach is not the best way to serve our students. This discussion will continue during the upcoming session and these recommendations will give us a good starting point.”
The task force was asked to recommend the best requirements for teacher applicants in light of concerns that have been raised about the accuracy of the test and racial bias in the current system. Testimony to the task force indicated that there was no correlation between scores on the skills tests and teacher excellence. The teacher licensure tests on pedagogy and content area were not part of the group’s work, and will remain in place. A number of leaders in the K-12 community met over the past eight months before voting on and offering recommendations.
Sen. Dahle explains, “The task force’s recommendations include a move from impersonal skills testing to a system where our teacher licensure hinges more clearly on our institutes of higher education. The colleges and universities that train our future educators are the most qualified to assess their readiness to teach Minnesota students. Of course, everyone involved wants to maintain a strong standard of accountability, so we have also recommended that the Board of Teaching develop rigorous requirements for our colleges and universities that ensure all graduates of their programs are proficient in reading, writing, and math at a college level.
“We have a chance this session to improve our selection process and improve our teaching community,” said Sen. Dahle.
Senator Dahle encourages constituents to contact him with any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas on any legislative topic via phone or email. Sen. Dahle can be reached by phone at 651-296-1279 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.