More leeway should ease teacher shortage in state

    In response to severe shortages, teacher candidates in the state of Minnesota now have more leeway in meeting state licensure testing requirements. The Minnesota Board of Teaching at their October meeting added four exams that teacher candidates can take to satisfy the state’s requirements.

    Minnesota teachers are required to take and pass pedagogy tests in their licensure subject fields as well as what has been considered an unrealistically strict interpretation of the basic skills exam referred to as the MTLE test before they can receive a Minnesota teachers license. This exam has become a roadblock for many teacher licensure candidates, and has kept well-qualified teachers that were trained in Minnesota and at colleges and universities in other states from receiving their teacher licenses.

    “We have a teacher shortage, particularly in math, science and special education,” said District 1 State Sen. LeRoy Stumpf (DFL-Plummer). “Many school districts all across Minnesota, but certainly in rural parts of the state are finding they can’t find licensed teachers to hire, specifically because of the state test required. I am happy to hear about the Board of Teaching’s decision to help ease the burden on new teachers trying to receive their Minnesota teaching license.”

    The four additional tests that can be taken to satisfy state requirements are the Praxis IV, ACT/SAT Plus Writing, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and the National Center on Education Statistics exam, which is a multi-state testing instrument that will help ease the burden for teachers educated in other states.

    “We have students trained in North Dakota who have taken multiple tests such as the ACT or the GRE and they come to Minnesota and realize they have to take another test to teach in our schools,” Stumpf continued. “We need qualified teachers, but by adding these other tests, it helps streamline the process to licensure.”

    Last legislative session the legislature gave the Board of Teaching the flexibility to choose other tests to fulfill the testing requirements. The education bill also provided greater flexibility that will help teachers trained in other states receive their licensure for Minnesota.

    “I have heard from school administrators and teachers from all across Minnesota that the current test does not accurately determine if a person is appropriately skilled to be an effective teacher,” Stumpf noted. “While we want all our teachers to be well-trained and knowledgeable, we also want to ensure that the requirements we have make sense for everyone.”

    The Board of Teaching will, by July 1, 2016, set the minimum passing scores for each of the tests.