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Supers Not Sold on Benefits of Teacher 'Bar Exam'

Southampton and Bridgehampton superintendents favor ensuring excellence, but are not convinced the governor's plan will do that.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State address last week, called for a "bar exam" to be put in place for teachers, but local school district superintendents are not convinced the proposed test will have an added benefit for students.

The idea behind the exam, at the recommendation of the New NY Education Reform Commission, is "to emphasize that teachers are professionals and should be held to the highest standards from the start."

“I think that’s a good sound bite ...," Southampton School District Superintendent J. Richard Boyes, Ed.D., said. "In principle, the idea for having a single exam you have to pass sounds good — a rigorous exam. I get it."

But Dr. Boyes noted that teachers in New York State are already required to become certified.

Before he could judge whether a bar exam is a good plan, he said he wants to know what it would look like, and whether it would really be an improvement. “I just haven’t seen enough details,” he said. “I don’t know how it looks different that what we have now.”

Bridgehampton Superintendent Lois Favre, Ed.D., pointed out, "There aren’t too many teachers in New York State that didn’t have to pass exams to secure certification in teaching profession, not to mention secure a master’s degree to keep that certification, and now ongoing professional development is required."

Favre said she has been fortunate to work with the best and brightest during her career. "I have no objection to assuring excellence in this, the greatest profession," she said. "Increasing admissions standards, and testing is all well and good, as long as we do not overlook the other, more important qualification — the one that assures that first and foremost the professional cares about students — not the money, not the status, but the whole child."

Cuomo's proposal insinuates that there are not great teachers in classrooms now, Favre said, adding, "this is simply not the case. I could tell you some wonderful stories, of success, passion, commitment — to the whole child."

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Thomas M Jones January 14, 2013 at 07:31 PM
I find it hard to fathom why school superintendents wouldn't want a "Bar" like exam for their teachers. Don't they want to know that they have the best and the brightest teaching in their classrooms? The current sytem is a joke and most teachers know it is. Why not raise the bar so to speak and elevate all standards that's why evaluations are becoming public. A recent Standford University study revealed that strong teachers that continue to have high test scores are money in the bank to higher earning status for their students. Parents,Administrators and Board members need to know who are the best performing teachers in their schools and by doing so it can benefit all of those concerned. Teachers with low scores can get the help they need and teachers with high scores can help a school district achieve even higher success now and in the future.
Krista Morisen January 15, 2013 at 12:11 PM
So, based on your uneducated view of education, I assume you don't care about your children's education? Spend one day in a classroom where we have students who are disrespectful, ignorant, apathetic, and then remind us, its our job to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to go into the world prepared to run it. And its our job to ensure that your children and loved ones are safe while in our care--Think Newtown? Views such as yours make great Congressmen, and send our jobs overseas because teachers aren't allowed to do our jobs to give your kids an edge in the global job market. I wish I were making the money you claim I do--and I teach COLLEGE, but, I have to work my butt off. Teachers, at all levels take their work home with them, spend more than your 'part-time' schedule working on lesson plans, creating exams and homeworks, among other things. We have to be on our best behavior at all times. If you teach this same view to your children, I feel sorry for the future of this nation.
Krista Morisen January 15, 2013 at 12:15 PM
What about the students and parents? I see a lot of parents who don't hold their kids accountable for doing their homework. Somehow, its the teachers fault when kids play video games over doing their homework? Now, that's a privileged attitude.
Krista Morisen January 15, 2013 at 12:17 PM
They already have one...Its called the PRAXIS EXAMS. And NYS requires additional testing on top of those. Now, what would be great, get rid of the Bachelor of Education degrees and go back to the system where teachers had to get a degree in the fields they taught and do a year to two more for the certifications. Luckily, some states are going that route.
Bernie January 16, 2013 at 02:28 AM
A Bar Exam will not fix education. There are a lot of bad attorneys who all passed the bar exam. We should be focusing on a teacher's end product as opposed to what a teachers come in with. Paying teachers more for Masters degrees and post graduate credits do not necessarily translate to better educated children. We need to reward teachers for the producing educated students, not the teacher's degrees.

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