The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) recently released its 2015 Teacher Supply and Demand Report. Two of its conclusions are not at all surprising to rural Minnesota school officials:
- Mounting Shortages: The percentage of districts indicating that it is difficult or impossible to hire qualified teachers in shortage areas is about double that seen in the 2012 survey.
- Testing Barrier: Testing requirements for teachers top the list of factors that challenge teacher preparation institutions’ efforts to recruit and prepare teachers, and 63 percent of districts indicate that testing requirements represent either a small (27 percent) or large barrier (36 percent) to hiring teachers.
These dry statistics describe real young adults who are aspiring teachers and students who do not have fully licensed and qualified teachers. Three of the young teachers whose waivers and variances are expiring or who never could begin teaching testified this past Tuesday in the Senate E-12 Education Committee in support of SF 298.
Kami Van Hal is known as a successful teacher by her principal and the parents of her kindergarteners but she struggled to pass state’s skills test. Kami gave powerful testimony that brought many to tears as she shared how she did not meet the cut score 18 times and was called a failure. As a kindergarten teacher, she takes the same test as a high school physics teacher and is expected to have the same subject competency.
She is not alone. Tammy Van Hoff, a kindergarten teacher, shared the challenges with the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam with legislators this month. “I’m not a failure,” she told legislators.
Dan Devine, an art instructor, told legislators a similar tale and how MTLEs create unnecessary barriers to teaching.
They have the support of principals and superintendents. Thief River Falls Superintendent Laine Larson was among the school administrators who testified about the difficulties finding teacher candidates. Administrators are raising concerns about the test and say it is not “basic.”
College professors agree that it is not effectively assessing a person’s ability to teach.
Addressing the Issue
MREA is active at the legislature in addressing the #QuietCrisis of Teacher Shortage. Learn more.