The Trickle-Down Effect of Lowering Teacher Standards

Alima Adams:

“I read that New York teachers don’t have to be literate, anymore. Is that true, Mom?,” my seventh-grader asked last week. He’s recently become determined to “fix all education in America” (I have no idea where a son of mine could have picked up such an interest), and was on the Internet doing research. He’d already expressed his surprise at New York City’s less than 50% college readiness graduation rate and the fact that the most frequently failed college course was Algebra.

Now, he wanted to know about the NY Board of Regents decision to eliminate the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST) for prospective teachers.

My thirteen year-old son isn’t the only one puzzled by the ruling. I am, too.

Among the move’s supporters are deans of Education Schools. Michael Middleton of Hunter College was quoted by The New York Times as saying, “We already know that our licensure candidates have a bachelor’s degree, which in my mind means they have basic literacy and communication skills.”

First of all, is “basic” really where we want to set the bar for those who educate our children? Don’t we all hope our children progress beyond “basic” themselves?

Related: relaxing Wisconsin’s K-12 teacher licensing requirements.

And, Madison’s long-term disastrous reading results.

  • Gabriel

    I understand that someone who has not taken the ALST may have the perception that this is a step towards lowering standards for future teacher candidates. As an individual who took the test, I can assure you that the ALST was lacking validity in its assessment of literacy skills. Many of the questions were poorly worded and the answers were subjective. I am a graduate of The Bronx High School of Science and I am all for higher standards for teachers. However, the ALST was simply a means for Pearson to further profit from teacher candidates. The relatively low passing rate was not due to its higher expectation of test takers, but its poor content. I even shared the official sample questions online to the brightest friends from Bronx Science and they also found the questions to be subjective. I understand that there may be concern, but I don’t believe that people should voice their opinions prior to fully understanding the scope of such actions.