How Michigan’s colleges and universities rank on tough new teacher certification tests

Teacher prep programs at Michigan colleges and universities are scrambling to adjust to the state’s beefed-up teacher readiness exam, first given this past fall, that rated only a quarter of aspiring teachers ready for the classroom.

The panic is being felt from the halls of Michigan State University’s nationally renowned school of education, where less than a third of students passed the test, to Ferris State University, where no aspiring teachers passed.

At the request of Bridge Magazine, the Michigan Department of Education recently released student pass rates for each of the college-level teaching programs in the state. The results were humbling. The University of Michigan had the highest pass rate at 63 percent. But at nine of the 15 schools at which at least 10 students took the exam, less than a quarter of students passed.

Those who may eventually benefit the most from the tougher exam will never see the test – Michigan’s children. The new certification test, which all new teachers must pass to teach in Michigan public schools, is part of an effort to assure that only the most highly-qualified teachers are leading Michigan classrooms.

“These results presented a wake-up call not just to students who did not pass the test,” writes Donald Heller, dean of MSU’s College of Education, in a Bridge guest column, “but to schools and colleges of education across the state.”

That was the goal, according to State Superintendent Mike Flanagan. “Just like we’d want the best and most effective doctor, the same applies to teaching Michigan’s students,” Flanagan said in November about the new, low pass rates.

Michigan teacher prep lacking

Beginning last September, Bridge Magazine published a series examining the crucial role of teacher preparation in increasing learning in Michigan classrooms, where test scores show students are falling behind others in most states.

In that series, Bridge raised concerns about the ease of teacher certification. At the time, aspiring Michigan teachers had a similar pass rate on certification tests to cosmetologists, raising questions about how seriously the state considered the issue of getting only the best prospective teachers into classrooms.

The new test, first given in October, was designed by K-12 and college educators to raise the bar for entry to the classroom. Whereas the old test merely required aspiring teachers to show the knowledge needed for “an entry-level teacher,” the new test demands students demonstrate they have the knowledge to “effectively perform” as a teacher.

The result is a much more rigorous exam, with higher-level math questions and a tougher writing subtest. The previous statewide pass rate of 82 percent dropped to 26 percent on the new test.

Students can retake the test – which is offered four times a year – as many times as they like, so students who failed in October still may eventually become teachers. But some students who struggled with the exam may decide to pursue another field of study. This is especially true at colleges that use the exam as a de facto admission test to the teacher training program, said C. Robert Maxfield, interim dean of the School of Education and Human Services at Oakland University.

The exam, called the Professional Readiness Exam, is just the first step to getting a teaching license in Michigan. Beyond passing the PRE, students must successfully complete student teaching, as well as area-specific exams (elementary education, secondary social studies, etc.).

The state also requires that aspiring teachers pass the PRE before beginning student teaching, typically as seniors, but about half of Michigan college prep programs require students to pass it before entering their program, typically as sophomores.

At Oakland University, where students must pass the test to enter the teacher prep program, only 18 percent passed last October. “If something doesn’t happen quickly,” Maxfield said, “we’re not going to have anyone in our program.”

The Department of Education cautions that the pass rates may change as more students take the test. Schools aren’t waiting, though, to adapt to the new test.

Oakland University is offering tutoring to students who are preparing to take the exam. “That’s a quick fix,” Maxfield said. “But (in the long term) it needs to be addressed in the curriculum of general-studies classes,” the math and English courses students take in their first two years at Oakland.

Ferris State’s School of Education is reexamining its policy of mandating students pass the PRE before entering the teacher program as sophomores or juniors with the belief that, with another year of school under their belt, more students would pass. The state only requires that the PRE be passed before a student begins student teaching. About half of the state’s teacher prep programs require a passing score to enter programs, and half after entering the program but before student teaching.

“I understand the state’s position. We really want to know whether they are ready to teach,” said James Powell, director of the School of Education at Ferris State. “The question is, how much debt do we want them to take on before knowing whether they can student teach?”

Powell said Ferris faculty is working on test strategies with students who want to be teachers, as well as examining whether core curriculum needs to be strengthened.

Some questions about exam

Some schools are raising questions about the limits of what the testing reveals. MSU’s Heller wrote in a College of Education blog that the school’s pass rate dropped precipitously even though the MSU students taking the exam had high ACT scores and college GPAs.

The state “likely knew the cut scores (the minimum score to pass) they chose would result in a much lower passage rate than in prior administrations of the test,” Heller wrote. “But whether the specific cut scores actually will ensure that these students will be the future ‘best and brightest’ teachers is unknown. The process may just end up selecting the students who are the best test takers, but not necessarily those who will be the best teachers.”

Flanagan addressed the issue of more stringent cut scores at the November meeting of the state Board of Education. “If we wanted to temper (cut scores to allow more students to pass), it would have been overruling actual practitioners who said this is what you need to know to pass the test.”

Ming Lee, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Western Michigan University, called the test results “disappointing,” and suggests the state may need to find a way to identify and screen for characteristics of good teachers in addition to test scores.

Deborah Lowenberg Ball, dean of the University of Michigan School of Education, said it is “absolutely important to require teachers to know subject matter content. It is also crucial that the questions on the subject matter exams test the content that teachers have to know well in order to teach, and that the test items assess that kind of knowing of content that is most important to skillful teaching.”

The state is also slowly revamping its teacher certification tests in specific subjects to make them as rigorous as the PRE, with the hope that a higher bar for entrance to the teaching profession will eventually lead to better teaching and higher academic achievement among Michigan students.

“This steps up our game,” said Maxfield, of Oakland University. “We just have to do an increasingly good job or attracting the brightest and most capable students to teaching.”

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Byron Williams
Mon, 01/13/2014 - 10:47pm
I have two questions. 1. Why would anyone want to go into teaching? Pay is being decrease and good luck on having a retirement. 2. How are you going to attract teachers to rural areas? Do you really think a top student wants to work for $50000 tops?
Charles Richards
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 1:52pm
Let's have a brief recap of basic economics. If a school district cannot obtain the services of a teacher of a given ability for a given compensation, then they will be obliged to increase their offer until someone finds the compensation adequate. That's how prices are set, and a teacher's compensation is a price. A voluntary exchange isn't completed until both parties find it acceptable.
Byron Williams
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 2:52pm
Charles Richards--by your comments I take it that you were never a teacher. Colleges may offer more money to fill a position, but not secondary
Byron Williams
Mon, 01/13/2014 - 10:55pm
Pay teachers $80,000 to $100,000, good benefits and a good retirement. Get rid of the Republicans in state government would also help.
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 10:08am
Great points, Byron.
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 7:55pm
Byron, Why? Is it just because they are called a teacher, just because they show-up in front of a class each day that they should be paid all that money? You have simplifies everything down to money, as if that is all anyone cares about, as if you only get the best if you pay the most. The reality is the truly dedicated professional cares about who they are serving, the environment they work in, the support they receive, the flexibility they are allowed. Money is most effective when it rewards (identifies) success not when it becomes the sole reason to take a job.
Byron Williams
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 9:36pm
Duane--you can't live on dedication. Just because a person demands a good salary does not mean they won't be dedicated.
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 1:07am
Byron, I don't discount money, but I have found not to over value it. People who are committed to what they want to do, want a compatitive pay, after that they want to be able to do their job in a safe and encouraging environment, they want the latitude to use their judgement. Simply paying more than anyone else does no mean you will get the best. There are many professions that pay more, that doesn't mean that everyone who is capable will seek those profession out. Not everyone wants to or is willing to be a doctor, a lawyer, and accountant. Not everyone would want to be a teacher simply because it pays the best. It is more important to develop the places people want to work than it is to simply pay more. A lot of people want a high paying job, but that doesn't mean they are capable of doing a good job.
Thu, 01/16/2014 - 8:58am
Duane, You go teach and tell me the only thing teachers do is stand in front of a classroom. Teachers I know spend more than 12 hours a day in the classroom, take home work, work on the weekends, etc. You are terrible mislead if you think it's just standing in front a a room of kids for 8 hours.
Thu, 01/16/2014 - 3:41pm
Katie, I do appreciate that a good teacher is more than showing up. When Byron was saying teachers should be paid $80,000-100,000 I was asking if simply showing up was all he expected for that pay. I believe quality professionals in every field work for more then just the money, they have a committment to the role that have and what they are trying to do in that role. I also believe that once the pay is competitive, not noticably higher than others, they value the work environment, the support, the flexibility in using their judgement much higher than anyone in these type discussions recongizes. Any committed professional invests more than a standard 8 hours in day or 40 hours in a week working. What I have seen in other professions (and I had to learn) was that simply thinking that you should be respected, supported, rewarded for doing what you see as a good job is egotistical, unrealistic, and doing a disservice to your self, your profession, and those you serve. The true professionals must draw people into and help them undersand what successes looks like and what it takes to achieve it and the value it provides. Anyone that simplies this discussion to a pay schedule, even including benefits, is short sigthed and not truly engaged. I have had teachers on their good days simply stood in front fo the class and read the textbook, I have had only a few that did more. And yet it seems people like Byron seem to believe they should all be seen as the same. I disagree, and that why I regularly ask what does a successful teacher do and how do they do it. Can you shed any light on what success looks like? I can tell you in my experience with other professions it has little to do with the number of hours in a day they 'spent' on their job.
Courtney Zielinski
Sun, 02/09/2014 - 9:45pm
Hello Duane, My name is Courtney, and I am 18. I love your perspective. In today's society, there is pressure on educators to show students how to work hard and in turn demand 4.0 GPA's, well-rounded individuals, and overall well-balanced students. I do not like these types of educators. Although I came from a background of a high school 4.3 GPA, juggling track, choir, cross country, NHS (National Honor Society), volunteering, and keeping my Epilepsy under control; I do not want to have anything to do with a high-paying job. Money is mere substance to me, along with jewelry and clothes. After going to an Academy for 3 years in elementary, I realized grades do not matter. It is values and life experience that will get you places. Teachers should be there for students to realize their full potential. They should not discourage them with letters in grade books. It only makes us feel stupid. I am currently attending a community college, and only respect the teachers who teach us valuable life lessons we can carry with us for the rest of our lives. Not the ones who follow curriculum. Deadlines are for those who need organization. They discourage creativity and quality work in students work, and instead force them to ask-" When is this due?" It is a sad truth that we must be forced to bend to others needs when we have our own to take care of. Everything in life should be put in a box, and a teacher has a difficult job. However, they cannot let their personal lives affect the impact they leave on students. They cannot let it bleed into their teaching styles. This is why two of my favorite high school teachers are my favorite teachers. In fact, one taught high school English. He had to follow the curriculum to be an English teacher there, but he taught me more than the words of Shakespeare and Harper Lee. I saw definition behind the text of "To Kill A Mockingbird", and what he taught us in that little classroom were life values. Money does not matter, in the end, it can't buy happiness. Wear sunscreen, was the first piece of advice on a blue sheet of paper that has circled the web. He printed it out and gave it to us. He taught us Flocab. It was 3 minute songs that taught you 50 vocab words and definitions instantly. Not many teachers respected him, not many students saw what I saw in that man. That you do learn from experience, not education. And an Honors student like me, and Presidential Award winner, and North Western talent search winner can tell you that. Thank you Duane for setting the record straight. I hope to someday get the opportunity to meet you. Sincerely, a very bright bulb Courtney Elisabeth P.S. His name is David Smith, and he is awe-inspiring. He had Jim Tuman (a very popular motivational speaker) come speak at our little high school.
Courtney Zielinski
Sun, 02/09/2014 - 10:05pm
This is Courtney Elisabeth. I sincerely hope you have read my response to those you have posted. I wanted to add that standardized tests are overrated. I got a 21 on my ACT, however, it is like a prescription, not a definition of my talents and abilities. I have employers who value me as a co-worker and employee, as a leader, and I also pretend to be a follower. I play the role of a student very well. My real role in society, however, is that of a writer. I would not like to be President, because politics do not interest me. I would not like to be a teacher, because well, I do not think I could be half as cool as Mr. Smith. I would like to do what makes me happy, and relieves stress. That would make me successful. And that profession would be writing. Although education is highly valued in our society, and we are competing with China, who's top 25% high-IQ students actually beat the total population of North America, I value what makes us all different, unique individuals. We all have capabilities, some we are not aware of. To be successful, you must be aware of this, and act upon it, and be happy. We should not conform, unless that is what makes us comfortable. I was born a leader and a writer, and by golly, I am doing my best to make the most out of talents I was given. Overcoming obstacles is the most difficult task, but I am doing it better than most individuals my age do. I make excuses like crazy, but must move past that and onto the better half of my life-growing up! I made a commitment to myself to live my dream, and not by the rule book. I can relate a lot better with my elders, hence, why I respect the ones who help me, and not discourage my individuality. Duane, please let all the teachers you can know about me. Especially coming from a students perspective of teachers who are good at their jobs. --Sincerely Courtney Elisabeth P.S. Ever watched the youtube video Shift Happens? If not, I highly recommend it. Watch both original and versions since then till now. Also watch Chinese versions. Amazing. True. Facts.
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 10:07am
It would be interesting to know more about the test. Have principals and parents selected a cadre of teachers that they consider "certified" and have they taken the test. How reliable and valid are the test scores? How many teachers pass the test but are failures in managing a classroom? A lot of decisions may be made with this these test scores. How accurate are they?
Randolph Priest
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 10:31am
Well, two things here. The attrition rate for public school teachers is close to 50% at five years; so some kind of meaningful test or skills survey beforehand is probably a good idea for all concerned, Then it follows that a 50% failure rate, given this, should not be surprising. The other thing is that any valid "measure" of readiness for teaching must involve not only cognitive, but affective skills. The latter are, by nature, difficult (if not impossible) to quantify and most efforts to do so are extremely subjective and unreliable. So, once again, these "tests" only address half of what it takes to be a successful teacher. That's assuming that even these tests are reliable AND valid.
Charles Richards
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 3:07pm
Mr. Priest says, "The attrition rate for public school teachers is close to 50% at five years; so some kind of meaningful test or skills survey beforehand is probably a good idea for all concerned," His facts are accurate, but his analysis is not. Charles Wheelan, in his book "Naked Economics", after noting that teachers' salaries "are determined by a rigid formula based on experience and years of schooling" goes on to say "This uniform pay scale creates a set of incentives that economists refer to as adverse selection. Since the most talented teachers are also likely to be good at other professions, they have a strong incentive to leave education for jobs in which pay is more closely linked t productivity. For the least talented, the incentives are just the opposite."
Mark Knowles
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 10:31am
Mr. Powell at Ferris State University....if you were a head would be fired...
Byron Williams
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 2:49pm
Mark Knowles-- tell me what is wrong with James Powell's comment? If the state funded higher education like it did in 1960's, student debt would not be as great. It was funded at 70 to 75%. What is now? 15%. Why would you want to burden a student with extra debt if they are not qualified ?
Charlene Schlueter
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 11:35am
I'm not sure why any young person would want to become a teacher in this State given the current political environment in Michigan where teachers are now regarded as the "enemy".
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 1:44pm
Keep in mind folks - as the article pointed out - some schools 'graded' here were having Sophomores take the exam just to get into the schools teacher prep program. That skews the results a bit. As a result, I don't believe a bad showing by it's students is necessarily a accurate measure of how well a particular college is doing in preparing it's teachers. I doubt anyone can say that a 2nd year student should be able to pass a test designed for a student who has completed their 4th year and is about ready to start student teaching. The level of knowledge, not to mention maturity, is greatly enhanced in those last 2 years. But I agree, knowledge and GPA alone do not make a good teacher.
Charles Richards
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 2:08pm
This is a pretty decent article with some valuable information. It would have been significantly better if Mr. French had included the average SAT scores for incoming freshmen at each college and university. That would have enabled us to disentangle the effect of raw talent from the quality of the institution's program. It is regrettable that no effort was made to explore the relationship between the effectiveness of current teachers and the institution they came from. Of course, that might not have been possible, given that we have never made a sustained effort to rigorously evaluate teachers. Possibly, we can still do so if we come up with a good teacher evaluation system.
Tue, 01/14/2014 - 8:10pm
Can some help me? I am not clear from Mr. French's repporting, does the test simply mean that schools have to change how they prepare thier students so they can past the test? Are they now teaching for the certification tests? Does the new certification testing assure that those who pass will now be quality/effective teachers? It seems Mr. French's reporting is preoccupied with the test scores and how the varius schools compare. Am I the only one that sees this being similar to the testing and comparisons of the K-12 schools that some many teachers, adminstrators, educators have been upset about?
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 7:19am
This is NOT the test for teacher certification in their content area, but rather a test to measure their proficiency in academic areas (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics). Here is the link to the subparts of the test - I strongly encourage you to look at the math section, which is the one that most students struggle with. Its subparts include Quantitative Literacy and Logic, Statistics and Probability, Algebra and Functions, and Geometry and Trigonometry. All the stuff we are all really good at, right? What I would like to see is this test administered to all college students. That may give some insight into the academic ability of Michigan's college student body and not just the students who decide to become a teacher. Lastly, blanket articles like this don't really say anything except that MDE decided to beef up a test and, shockingly, pass rates declined. Universities will respond to this by taking more time out of the students' course schedules to make sure they pass the test. Less time will be dedicated to in-class and work-based educational experiences. You know, the same thing that's going on in K-12. High stakes testing, indeed.
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 8:57pm
Adam, Thanks for the link. I went to the site and look at the math test. I have been away from school too long, but the test questions didn't seem to show any relation to teachering. The test questions seem to be more about intimidating/impressing the none teachers than they are to test the competence of prospective teachers. I have always felt such multiple 'guess' questions were always written for the conveniece of the test scorer and show little interest in really verifying the knowledge of the tested person.
Wed, 01/29/2014 - 11:15am
Adam, most who struggled with the test did poorly on the writing portion of the assessment. The math standards look suspiciously like the pre-CCSS Michigan high school math standards. In fact, I'd challenge anyone to prove that they aren't. Any educator who isn't teaching math likely doesn't have to know (despite the PRE's presumptions) whether the converse, inverse, and contrapositive of a conditional statement is truth-functionally equivalent to the conditional statement; but every teacher should be able to write a compound, complex sentence. The new PRE is more of an indictment of how many college students (even at the end of their sophomore year) don't have to write well (if at all).
Courtney Zielinski
Sun, 02/09/2014 - 10:26pm
Dear Adam, As a student here in Michigan, (18 and attend a community college) I completely understand where you are coming from. You and Duane help me realize there really are educators who work for the benefit of the students. I appreciate all that you have said here, and including the link. I have an extremely impressive educational background for most my age, but I take value out of life experience. Over time, I understand teachers must do this too. The young teachers are the ones who still follow the curriculum and worry about what they are getting paid, and root for snow days. Then there are the real teachers, who wake up with a smile on their face, still a bit nervous, and say "I get to encourage and engage the minds of people today". The issue here is all about money. But the issue could be resolved if that weren't the main priority. Instead, educators should show students the power of their minds and abilities they possess. Teachers can be anybody, there does not need to be a test to define what is a teacher. However, it would be best to at least look at a sex-offenders list first before taking advice from a stranger-or at least I would hope someone would be smart enough to do that. Teachers abilities should be measured instead on the impact they leave on the students current lives and future. That is why, it is the more experienced, knowledge in more areas than their own, teachers that should fill our education system. The kind of teachers Albert Einstein wants to see. A famous quote of his happens to be on my Facebook, with a cartoon for all the visual learners. ;D Thank you for listening to an 18 year-old speak her mind in a novel. --Courtney Elisabeth P.S. I am not aware of the potential havoc my words could reek on the rest of the world. So please make me aware if there is a discrepancy in what I have written. Thank you!
Fri, 03/20/2015 - 3:30pm
I have looked over the material at the site you provided. I did not find the subject matter difficult or intimidating. I think anyone who graduates with a bachelors degree from any university should be able to achieve a passing score on an exam that includes the material on that site. I would certainly hope those teaching our youth would be able to pass an exam on that material especially those teaching at the middle or high school level. If we want our children to be able to compete in the world, we need to educate our children at the highest level achievable. That means our teachers should be from the top of the class at their university, not the bottom, and they should be paid accordingly. Our teachers should be tested not only on their understanding of the material, as indicated in the standardized tests, but also on their ability to teach that material to others. Teaching is a gift that not everyone has. I would not make a good teacher. I understand the material and can apply it in real world situations but I can not explain how I know what to do to someone else. I do not have the gift of being able to get others to see what I see naturally or how to think differently to achieve the end result. We need to making teaching a respected profession again!
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 10:56am
After 11 years away from college, I will be returning to WMU next semester to resume completing my major in Art Education and my minor in English education. I took the Basic Skills Test 14 years ago, and I believe I only got one or two test questions wrong. Having just taken the PRE two weeks ago, I can attest that it was very difficult. I took the full 4.5 hours to complete my test, and though I believe my two essays at the end of the exam were complete in scope, they did not meet the word-count requirements. I am fully perplexed as to how knowledge of logarithms, quadratic equations, and statistics applies to my professional readiness in regard to TEACHING visual art and English. However, as I was able to score in the 30's on the reading, math, and English sections of the ACT (back in 1997) I still expect to pass the PRE. If I did not pass, I will be infuriated, as I believe it is reflective of the shortcomings of the Michigan Dept. of Education, not my own.
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 1:32pm
Our SMALL rural school district and ISD have a teacher academy that allows 9th graders to start pursuing teaching. It is an awesome program. Teaching isn't the only profession people aren't prepared for when they are finished with their college degree. It is good to test people who want to be teachers. We need good teachers. Also, if an 'average' is figured for a person earning $50,000 a year for 9 months of work minus ALL holidays and weekends, paid sick days and personal days for approx. 7 hours a day minus retirement AND health benefits, it comes up to approx. $28 an hour. What again is wrong with that? If you add in 12 more weeks at this rate it would be almost $61,000 a year. Teachers are regarded in the highest respect in my eyes. It is good to have a system in place to be sure our teachers are good at what they do. Keeping the teaching profession 'politically correct' is a balancing act for all involved! Keep up the good work everyone! It's worth passing on grrrreat education to children. PS Don't waste your time refuting the numbers I've written. They are guess-ta-ments & I'm not a math major & I'm not planning on coming back here to check in. I am posting because I am tired of always hearing how BAD education/life/teachers/students/everything, etc. is. There are MANY good things, so I'm writing to make sure something positive is said. Have a great day! Blessings to you all.
Thu, 01/16/2014 - 4:15am
I had to take the previous test before I entered the College of Ed at my school. It used to be called the basic skills test and it was a total joke. Only the worst of the worst or really awful test takers could be eliminated, so it only served as a bureacratic hoop to jump. It's good that they are raising standards. Let's hope they do it well and give students enough warning.
Sun, 01/19/2014 - 2:52pm
List all the professions you know that start at approximately 32,000 a year, pay10%into the retirement system, 900$ in union dues,20% of there health care costs, and oh yes take a 10% pay cut. I know you will say but they don't even work year round. Then do something about their school calendar. Oh I forgot to mention they need 16 more credits in the next six years. and don"t forget spend 4,5 6 7, hundred more on supplies that your budget doesn't allow for and then have the State take even that away as a deduction. You can't pay good teachers enough and bad ones shouldn't get tenure. Teach 32 kids in a science class 4 and 5 times a day, with as many as 2,3,4,preps in a day and then every 12 weeks start over with a new group. If it is such a gravy train why don't you go back to school for a minimum of 5 or six years and live the dream. I spent the best 35 years of my life in that field with seven years of formal education and it was the best 35 years of my life. Did I mention when you are done good luck finding a job so you can pay off your loans. Ron
Craig Oldham
Tue, 01/21/2014 - 8:39am
Why worry about that test?? Have been an educator for 37 yrs! 30+ yrs in MI! No one should want to teach in this state! or I'm afraid most states! Students go to college now and most incur huge debt in order to begin in a career that pays $35,000 a year!!!!???? Many places less than that! In our district, 1st year teachers are in their 4th year at their beginning wage!! No one has seen a step increase in 4 years or a raise in many many years!!! The republicans will continue to deny money to public education and would have all public schools end so the for profit charters take over and then teachers could work for even less! How is that good? How is it that people don't get this?? Maybe they do and that's what they want! Who gives a rip about a challenging teacher prep test. If I'm a young person I'm going into a STEM career, forget education!
Wed, 01/22/2014 - 11:14am
I agree with Craig. I have been a teacher for 20 years, all in Michigan and I hold a PhD. I love teaching and have been willing to trade compensation to continue doing what I love. That trade-off notwithstanding, I certainly wouldn't become a teacher if I had to do so under the terms of employment at my district. The district has frozen steps for the last 4 years and has increasingly denigrated the profession. Having worked in the private sector, I can't imagine that a company that wants to hire the best candidates would inform applicants they that will never get a pay increase, no matter how long or how well they do their job. Also consider that teachers have been asked to pay for increasingly more of their retirement, retiree health benefits, and more for the materials necessary to actually do their jobs. The effect has been that I and other teachers make less take-home pay (not adjusted for inflation) than they have in the last 15 years. In fact, due to the reduction of opportunities to work during the summer, I personally take home less now than I did when I first started 20 years ago. This used to be a career with benefits that in some sense mitigated the low pay. Having fully employed teachers who qualify for food stamps does nothing to attract the brightest and the best. If we want the best students to enter teaching, the Michigan legislature needs to take a long, hard look at what type of individual would be attracted to a career that provides less pay and benefits than careers typically thought of as "low-skill" occupations. Make the career an attractive choice and you will begin to see the caliber of individuals entering the profession increase accordingly.
Fri, 02/14/2014 - 4:51pm
I agree with Todd and Craig wholeheartedly, but I’d also like to add the issue of respect. I love my job teaching. I have been teaching for 23 years. I love my students and being in the classroom, but what really beats me down is the constant teacher bashing and union busting that has occurred in our state. I have three sons who are all going to college, but both my husband (also a teacher) and I have told them not to go into education. My middle son would be an awesome teacher, but it is not worth it. Our profession is the whippings post of all our society’s ills. Most of the teachers I work with went into education to make a positive difference and they do just that. Unfortunately if you read the newspaper or watch network television, especially some networks, you will never hear about the good we are doing. First of all it doesn't sell! Second it goes against the push to privatize, which is an underlying contributing factor to all the testing we have now.
Sun, 01/26/2014 - 2:11pm
As a veteran teacher of 37 years, I would now like to see all the "professors of education" in all the universities take the test. BRIDGE will surely be happy to publish the results! Bet you a nickel the results will be no better than for their deluded students, maybe worse! The blind leading the halt leading the innocent children of Michigan over the cliff! Holden Caulfield, we need you! NOW!
Mon, 01/27/2014 - 12:27am
I find it interesting that UM, who has to have the worst education program in the state, has the highest number of students passing the initial exam. The teachers that I know that graduated from UMAA didn't have much if any real classroom experience. At MSU, the students are placed into a classroom for observation their freshman year, and are in a classroom every year afterwards, with full classroom responsibilities in their 5th year. The kids from UMAA are smart, true, because it's a highly academic school, but "smart" does not translate into "good teacher". Look at Michelle Rhee, who admits taping a child's mouth shut when she was put into a classroom while working for Teach for America. Smart does not equal savvy, intuitive, kind, caring, and any number of personality traits a good teacher needs to have.
Courtney Zielinski
Sun, 02/09/2014 - 10:33pm
Thank you Denise for pointing that out! A teacher is more than just a teacher, and should be. Like my grandma, a teacher is someone who must be an advocate. She was a teacher, a counselor, and a coach. I can bet you my favorite teacher even learned a thing or two from her. I am 18, with a very bright mind. I have quite a few qualities of a teacher, but that is not the path I would like to follow. Instead, I opt for the less-traveled path. I respect your input, and rely on the opinion to be facts to support your statement. Thanks for considering what I have said! --Courtney Elisabeth P.S. Read my replies to Adam and Duane to get more of a background on me, thanks!
Fri, 02/14/2014 - 4:31pm
If you look at the math standards for this test you will find that the math portion includes: Quantitative Literacy and Logic (20%); Algebra and Functions (30%); Trigonometry & Geometry (30%), Statistics and Probability (20%). These standards seem to me to align more with the ACT that many of us took before we entered college. I was a math student, so I may have done well on this part of the test when I was in college, but if I had focused on a language, art, social studies, early elementary, or many other areas of study I probably wouldn't have. (I cannot speak to the other standards, but I suspect a similar relationship exists.) Many students who study in those fields are not required, nor should they be required to take college versions of these classes. Consequently they may not have taken a similar math class since their senior year in high school, at best. If it is their junior year in college it could be four years since they studied these areas. When students are planning to go into the field of education they usually major in one or two areas of interest and expertise. They do not need to be an expert in all areas. I would like to see our elected officials take this test, and post their scores. Maybe that can be a test to whether or not they are fit to lead our state.
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 3:17pm
I wonder how many of our current teachers would pass this test. Interesting thought.
Sun, 03/16/2014 - 4:25am
This is horrible! I have failed the math part twice. I am going to be teaching Literature, I will never ever use this stuff. The best part is when you speak of how crucial knowing math is. If I pass this test in July, guess what, I am going to forget everything. How is it crucial to know trig? How will you be able to determine my worth as an educator from math? Do you not realize that EVERYONE who is not a math major will forget everything even if they pass. So your idea of having the "best" teacher is going to disappear with time, cause if you do not use it then you lose it...and we will NEVER use it. Even the math professors at my school thought this was insane to make us know this stuff. My math tutors jaws dropped when they received the schools "Home Made PRE Study Guide." They told us how it took them months to learn that stuff and how they don't even use it. The interview should determine weather we get a job or not, not this test. I can understand the reading and writing because we will always use it...even math teachers, but the math part is simply ridiculous. I don't believe I will ask my students what the square root of the levels of hell in Dante's inferno is, so please tell me again why I will need something hat a math major does not even use or know? You have no idea what a wonderful teacher I will become. I will study hard, I will pass, I will forget, and I will be the best damn teacher you have ever seen and that is without the knowledge of math. Give all the current teachers this test, see how many fail, and then tell me how "Effective" these tenure teachers really are.
Thu, 04/03/2014 - 8:04pm
Salina, I think your comment nailed it. I took this "revamped" PRE-test in October, and my university was not informed of this new test - therefore they did not have the proper materials for us to prepare ourselves for the new test. Also, unfortunately, the site I took my test at had incorrect printed tests for the Writing portion too. Needless to say, I am retaking the Writing sub-test this July, and I am very frustrated about having to do so. I also completely agree with you on the fact that being tested on high school level Math is a bit absurd, especially since a lot of students haven't taken that level of Math in several years! Unless we practice that particular Math on a regular basis, it will be difficult to acquire it when taking the PRE-test. So good luck retaking the Math sub-test! I hope you pass and continue on to become an incredible teacher! Sincerely, Eva Cline
Mon, 05/19/2014 - 10:34am
The requirements to pass this MTTC test are way out of hand. Being the daughter of two teachers and a grandparent who was also a teacher, I have practically grown up in the classroom. Despite my parents' discouragement to go into teaching myself, I took the MTTC test and was fully confident that I passed. Much to my dismay, the only part of the test I passed was the reading. Being an AUTHOR of not one, but two young adult fiction novels, a participant in the literary arts section at the West Michigan Showcase, and an essay contest winner at KVCC this past spring, I totally expected to pass the writing, but that was the part that I completely bombed - I did worse on that than I did on the math! Because of this, I am completely turned off to teaching and it's really a shame; I'm the person you want your kids to have as a teacher. Teaching isn't just about knowledge, it's also about being kind, intuitive, etc, etc... In the end, the ridiculous passing requirements for this test are going to turn away students who could have the potential to one day be the best teachers in the world, like me. At the end of the day, students like me who have a 3.7 GPA in their first two years of college and got a 28 on the ACT in high school should be able to pass this exam with flying colors, but unfortunately we aren't anymore. And it's a real shame.
Wed, 05/21/2014 - 9:53pm
Does anyone knows of an effective PRE Math study guide that is available for purchase? The test they have online at the MTTC website does not cover everything that is seen on the actual test. I have taken the Math portion three times and have not passed. I need a guide or a tutor that specifically teaches you how to pass this test, because there is more involved than just learning how to compute algebraically.
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 11:14am
Hi lisa have also struggled with the math portion I havent taken the updated version but If you have I wanted to know if you could share with me some things that I may need to study to pass...Thanks
Mon, 09/01/2014 - 10:28pm
I have long tried to understand the purpose for the test other than making money for the state. Students pay dearly to take these courses in college, study hard and most maintain a GPA of 3.5 or better. That alone should be enough qualification without the need to pass a State test. Passing the MTTC is not a guarantee that the person will make a good or great teacher. My suggestion is to you in Lansing is to get out of your offices, go to the classrooms of the new teacher and see them in action. This is the BEST measurement of whether or not the person should be in the classroom. Watch the interaction of the teacher with the students. Get a chance to see what the "REAL" world is like. It is easy to sit in your offices and make decisions on how things should be or how you can make more money off those taking these test. I challenge you to go to school districts around the state and be a teacher for a day. I'm not just talking about the schools that receive thousands of dollars per student. Those teachers don't experience the same challenges as other teachers. I mean the districts that are struggling. You will get an eye full of how teachers care and spend their own money to make it comfortable in the classroom for the students, or the teacher who purchases clothing for students because they are homeless and don't have any, or those who provide extra snacks for students so they won't be hungry when they get home or wherever they go. To top this off teachers constantly have to face layoffs every year. Trust me it is not the money they are paid. Oh the joys of being a teacher!
Fri, 11/14/2014 - 11:15am
Hi I wanted to know if anyone that has taken the updated version of the basic skill math portion give any tips on what should be the focus of studying.. Thank you
Rheta Rubenstein
Sat, 11/15/2014 - 9:43am
I am a professor of mathematics education. I taught mathematics for 20 years in public junior and senior high schools. I have written high school math textbooks. I have now taught future teachers (both elementary and secondary) for over 20 years. I love mathematics. In my professional judgment, as someone very familiar with high school math, college math, teacher education, and math that elem and sec'y teachers need, the mathematics portion of the PRE is totally inappropriate as a gauge or filter for selecting teacher candidates. We are not talking about what HS math teachers or elem math teachers need to know. We are not talking about certifying anyone to teach. We are just talking about screening people already admitted into college from taking courses to learn to become a teacher! These are people who will teach Spanish, biology, civics, voc-tech, special education or be counselors and others. As others have noted, when you look at the mathematics requirements you see it is in no way 'basic.' It is like retaking final exams in algebra 2, precalculus, and statistics, many of which future teachers did not even take in HS. It has no bearing on becoming an excellent teacher. It is just using math, as is too often done, as a filter to sort academically strong students from others, not, as others have stated, as a legitimate measure of who might become an excellent teacher. If you wanted math items that related to teaching I could write some (How do averages work? How do we read graphs on student performance?) But even these would fit better into programs of study AFTER people are IN a professional program. PRE math is an inappropriate tool for screening future teachers. It needs to be changed.
Cheron Felten
Sat, 08/29/2015 - 10:05pm
Well Michigan , you just lost a very good special Ed teacher because she couldn't pass the math test . E the last year and a half her students showed considerable improvement noticed by her principle .They were very sad to see her leave