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Update: TFA Responds To AFT "Bar Exam" Proposal

Last week's renewed push for some kind of bar exam for teachers included a couple of sentences about the potential performance of TFA members and generated this response:

We deeply believe in the importance of getting more highly effective candidates into teaching.  To date, the approach to preparation, certification and licensure has not ensured teacher effectiveness or new teachers consistently feeling well-prepared, and so we understand the instinct to propose something new.  Given what we’ve learned about teacher effectiveness and from the schools and districts making the most progress in raising student achievement, we think it may be more promising to focus on and invest in helping principals become more effective in selecting the most promising new candidates and developing everyone to be effective. 

 We think it is important that any entry exam—bar or otherwise—actually predicts teacher effectiveness and allows for the demonstration of important skills and knowledge for teaching candidates entering the profession through a variety of pathways, and want to be sure that entry exams do not undermine efforts to increase the diversity of the teaching profession.

About the bar exam idea itself, I'm not seeing a ton of enthusiasm about its prospects. It sounds good -- like the parent trigger, and mayoral control -- but seems more of a rhetorical device. 

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I'm hearing positive things from my kids' teachers. They see value in it for themselves, like National Board Certification. They want colleagues with similar skills & commitment and say is a much better approach to building strnger workforce than trashing tenure & over-valuing test scores.

The cricket noises are coming from the reform wing.

National Board does not ask parents or students what they think of the candidate. National Board does not require any evidence that a teacher is improving achievement. I've known some National Board certified people who are very unpleasant to kids. Letting the National Board develop such an exam would be a very bad idea.

This is actually an idea that was suggested by the AFT leadership nearly 40 years ago. Albert Shanker spoke on the topic in the 80's.

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