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New law ending basic skills exam for Michigan teachers receives criticism

US Department of Education

Michigan is receiving criticism for its decision to eliminate the SAT test as a basic skills examination for teachers.

The conservative-leaning National Council on Teacher Quality raised concerns about the elimination of a basic skills examination last week after Governor Snyder signed a law ending the practice.

Kate Walsh with the NCTQ said she doesn’t take issue with Michigan not using the SAT as a test -

“What I am very concerned about is that the state is doing nothing to assess the reading, writing, and math skills of candidates before they are accepted into a teacher preparation program.”

Walsh said without the examination there’s no guarantee Michigan’s teachers will be qualified.

“I don’t think there is a parent in the state of Michigan who would like their children in front of a teacher whose reading skills were subpar, who didn’t understand how to add a fraction. Those are basic fundamentals to the job.”

Bill DiSessa, with the Michigan Department of Education, said basic skills will be assessed by the teacher preparation programs.

“Combine that existing prep program with the remaining subject-matter exam and we believe that should be enough.”

DiSessa said the basic skills exam was proving to be a barrier for some teacher applicants.

Wash, however, said teacher prep programs are incentivized to admit students and won’t ensure adequate standards.

DiSessa said there is no evidence that the exam is effective in determining good teachers.

“And frankly there was just no research that a passing score on a test of basic skills leads to more effective teaching.”

The law will take effect on September 25th.