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From Black Voices — Much of the blame or responsibility for low student achievement or high achieving students has been placed on teachers lately –with Race to the Top programs providing financial incentives for teachers who produce top students, to the documentary “Waiting for Superman” which poignantly highlights the failures of the American education system.

A new class of aspiring teachers are getting ready for new, more demanding requirements to receive their teacher license. A new licensing system is being tested in 19 states that includes filming student teachers in their classroom and evaluating the video. Candidates must show they can prepare a lesson, tailor it to different levels of students and present it effectively, according to an AP report.

Most states only require that prospective teachers pass their courses and a written test. Supporters of the new system say the Teacher Performance Assessment program is a significant improvement, while others are a little more cautious in their praise, warning that it’s not guaranteed it will lead to more successful teachers.

The assessments also place responsibility for grading the would-be teachers with teams of outside evaluators who have no stake in the result. Currently, the teachers-in-training are evaluated by their colleges, which want their students to get their teaching licenses.

But beyond that it also places a tremendous onus on the teacher — a profession that is more fluid that concrete, more trial and error than an exact science. There are good days when the students are engaged and understanding the material and other days when it is a struggle . The idea is that, much like parenting, there is a method to the madness. You are repeating yourself often. And it is often not until years later — as a parent when your children become adults — that you realize they have been listening.

Minnesota is scheduled to be the first state to implement the new assessment system in 2012. Four other states – Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington – plan to implement it within five years. Fourteen more states are running pilots.

The teacher assessment program is a joint project by a consortium made up of Stanford University, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Currently, California and Arizona are the only states that require performance testing to license teachers. Two of California’s three different performance tests use video review. The third California test and the one in Arizona requires evaluators to sit in the classrooms and observe the teachers-in-training.

(Continue Reading @ Black Voices…)

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