How Do You Test For Teaching Talent?

October 16, 2018

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

What test should school teachers have to pass to earn a license in Illinois? The Illinois State Board of Education takes up that question at their meeting Wednesday.

Currently, an aspiring teacher has to achieve a high score on one of three tests before he or she can stand in front of a classroom. Those tests are the ACT, the SAT, or the TAP. The first two are familiar to most high school graduates. The third one — the Test of Academic Proficiency — is similarly long and difficult.

But is there any data that shows scoring high on a standardized test makes you a good teacher?

"We do not have that data,” says Jackie Matthews, spokesperson for the board. “This is something that will require more study to figure out what is that evidence-based approach to educator preparation and to a bar for licensure."

Teachers need more than academic skills. They also need the ability to build relationships with students. How do you test for that?

"Well, what we're hearing from the field is that it's not through the Test of Academic Proficiency,” Matthews says. “So that's why we're going to be doing more study on what is an evidence-based bar for licensure that leads to a highly-effective and diverse workforce."

The board will also discuss asking lawmakers to approve a pathway for classroom aides known as paraprofessionals to pursue licensure.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio