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Reforming education: The case for testing teachers

Deseret News

Published: Friday, Jan. 11 2013 4:50 p.m. MST

Our take: Finland's education system is often toted as one model the United States should follow as it reforms its public education system. In a column for the Atlantic, Joel Klein drills down on a few specific ways America's system would improve if it were more like Finland's — including the introduction of a teacher bar exam.

For many critics of contemporary American public education, Finland is the ideal model. It performs at the top on international tests and has a highly respected teaching corps, yet it doesn't rely on policies like test-based accountability and school choice that are the cornerstones of U.S. reform. So, the critics argue, let's change course and follow Finland.

It's facile, at best, to look to a small, largely homogenous, country, with a very different educational pedigree as a model for a nation like ours. Still, the "go- Finland" crowd is onto something: Finland long ago decided to professionalize its teaching force to the point where teaching is now viewed on a par with other highly respected, learned professions like medicine and law. Today, only the best and brightest can and do become teachers: Just one in every 10 applicants are accepted to teacher preparation programs, which culminate in both an undergraduate degree and subject-specific Master's degree. Even after such selective admissions and competitive training, if there are graduates who are not deemed ready for the classroom, they will not get appointed to the system.

Read more about reforming the U.S. public education system on The Atlantic.

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