Becoming a teacher in Michigan just became a lot more difficult.
Only one in four aspiring teachers passed a beefed-up version of Michigan’s teacher certification test – an exam that teachers must pass to be hired to lead a classroom – when the new test was administered for the first time last month.
The initial pass rate for the old version of the test was 82 percent; In October, with more difficult questions and higher scores needed to pass, the pass rate was 26 percent.
That means that three out of four students who completed what is typically a four- or five-year college program will have to retake the test or find another career.
The toughened certification tests are an effort to assure that only the most highly-qualified teachers are leading Michigan classrooms.
“Just like we’d want the best and most effective doctor,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a news release about the new, low pass rates. “The same applies to teaching Michigan’s students.”
Bridge Magazine raised concerns about the ease of teacher certification tests in October. At the time, aspiring Michigan teachers had a similar pass rate on certification tests as cosmetologists.
That story was part of a series examining the crucial role of teacher preparation in increasing learning in Michigan classrooms, where test scores show students are falling behind students in other states.
The new tests have been in the works for years, and are based on the recommendations of a group of K-12 educator and representatives from teacher preparation programs in the state.
The results will likely be a shock to aspiring teachers, who were receiving their test results today. For example, the pass rate on the math section of the certification test fell from 90 percent to 45 percent; the pass rate for the writing section plummeted from 92 percent to 31 percent.
Because test takers must pass sections on math, reading and writing, the percentage of test takers qualifying for certification was even lower - 26 percent, according to the Michigan Department of Education.
The test results are expected to be a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s State Board of Education meeting.
“We want the best and brightest teachers in Michigan classrooms,” Flanagan said. “Increasing the expectations necessary to pass the certification exam gets us closer to that goal.”