Staff Editorial: Higher standards, better pay key to great teachers

The Basic Skills Test used to be a breeze for potential teachers to take. However, this soon changed in 2010 when changes were made to how the test is scored. Students now need to score an 80 percent in each of the subtests to pass the test.

The number of students who passed the Basic Skills Test decreased by 57 percent since the change in 2010. As we reported Oct. 3., 90 percent of students passed the test before the change and now only 33 percent do.

This is huge change. It will undoubtedly make life more difficult for education majors. Nonetheless, it is a good change.

Before the change, basically any student who thought they could be a teacher could hope to pass with flying colors. Nine out of 10 of them were right.

Hard work should go into passing the Basic Skills Test and becoming a teacher.

A student shouldn’t be able to just roll out of bed and take the test and score a 90 percent on it. Students should have to study and work hard to get that 90 percent to prove they have what it takes to handle the responsibilities ahead of them.

Enrollment has been down because of the job market, but the education department suspects that the harder test is also intimidating potential education majors.

We think potential teachers shouldn’t look at the changes in the test as a barrier. These changes should be looked at as a challenge that can be overcome.

If a student really wants to be a teacher, she shouldn’t let a little thing like changes to the Basic Skills Test get in the way of her dream.

But, more importantly, the country’s education system needs improvement. Granted, there are many, many factors contributing to the backward slide of American education. Many of the problems have little or nothing to do with the quality or dedication of educators. But there is no doubting that better teachers make for a better education.

As Doug Bower, associate dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies told us, “If we want higher quality teachers, we need higher standards.”

These changes came from the State Board of Education. We think legislators should recognize these higher standards and reward them by raising the salaries for incoming teachers.

If we want higher quality teachers, we ought to be willing to pay for them. This is not just to reward their hard work, but to lure more potential teachers into the profession.

We give teachers a crucial societal responsibility. We should ask more of those who we trust with the fertile minds of our children. And they should expect more from us.

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