Want a Teaching License? Just Pay Pearson!
A generous and forward-thinking company has finally stepped forward to help colleges and universities weed out those prospective teachers who just shouldn't make the cut... and it's Pearson, the company known for every textbook and basal reader not published by Scholastic, McGraw-Hill, or Cengage! They've offered to take on one of the most important roles that university faculty play in preparing students to become education professionals, the process of approving graduates for licensure.
Colleges (including Ohio University, which I'll get to in a moment) have already begun field-testing this system in the last year or two, but it's in the news now because instructors and student teachers at the University of Massachusetts are choosing to opt-out of sending their portfolios and final reports to a company best known in 2012 for introducing children across America to the story of a talking pineapple and other ridiculously unfair and biased test questions. (Pearson has since stated that its tests are valid and reliable. As always, it's the student's fault for not recognizing the moral of a story in which a group of animals inexplicably eat a pineapple because it doesn't have sleeves or something. I'm just as lost as everyone else.) I sure hope the 15-billion dollar company can maintain a profit in 2012.
Where did this idea come from? According to an official at UMass, it was the fault of the shadowy "education reform movement":
Ms. Willett said the education reform movement had been highly critical of teacher education programs, complaining that not enough weak candidates were being eliminated. An independent measure should reassure the public, she said.
That's right! The general public, always bashing teachers for being weak and lazy and incompetent, you've gone and pushed Pearson into a situation I'm sure it doesn't want to be in at all. Now it has to decide if you're good enough to be a teacher.
And I'm not sure if Pearson really has the time to devote to this effort, to be honest. As the New York Times article pointed out:
In New York, Pearson will be able to test a teacher’s worth from start to finish. The company currently administers the test students must pass to be admitted to a teaching program and is developing the testing system that will be used to calculate each teacher’s annual performance score.
Soon, Pearson will start distributing those little personality quizzes the guidance counselor hands out in the third grade. Surely this company, with its highly paid employees (outsourced, of course, for $75 per test) and transparent system of governance, can tell if an eight year-old really has what it takes to become a teacher, right?
Update: The actual requirements for the assessment itself, titled the Teacher Performance Assessment, are almost impossible to find. Fortunately for you, I've completed a TPA in the field test at Ohio University and have uploaded a copy of the handbook to Scribd for you to view here.