State: Teacher test gets low marks

Illinois educators are hoping to avoid a teacher shortage in the not-so-distant future. And that has some school leaders questioning the state’s basic skills test for prospective teachers.

Jim Rosborg, director of the masters in education program at McKendree University, said college students take the test to get into teaching programs, and sometimes fail because they’re not strong in their non-core classes.

“An elementary teacher doesn’t need to know trigonometry and analytic geometry and advanced algebra,” Rosburg said. “Assessment in this state has gotten out of whack to what the basic needs of a teacher in the classroom are.”

The Illinois State Board of Education’s latest basic skill test report shows 1,153 prospective teachers took the test in the first three months of 2016. Only about 30 percent, or 345 students, passed.

Students fared far better on specific skills tests. For example, the State Board’s numbers show 87 percent of those same students passed the writing skills test.

Matt Donkin, regional superintendent of schools for Franklin, Johnson, Massac and Williamson counties, said the state made the test tougher a few years ago. But he questions whether Illinois made the test too tough. “With the higher barriers to get into this field, young people in college may say, ‘You know, it’s not worth the effort.’”

Donkin said schools want more flexibility or local control. Legislation to provide that is still bottled up in Springfield.

–Illinois News Network

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