As a teacher with lots of experience giving standardized tests, I recently took one myself: an administrative placement test here in Colorado, following a two-year graduate program. It was the last requirement to become certified to work as a school administrator.
The test was a joke.
A couple of years ago, I got an itch to return to school, and decided to pursue an educational specialist degree in leadership and policy studies at the University of Northern Colorado, with the intent to apply for a state administrative license. I didn’t think that I wanted to be a principal—managing adults is tough and I’ve had one too many administrators I know tell me not to do it as a result of the unfortunate amount of politics and accountability issues plaguing public schools, particularly those with sub-par test scores. But as I progressed through the program, I became more aware of the lack of qualified school administrators currently leading positive changes in our schools and I wanted to be part of the solution.
The coursework never seemed difficult to me, but I figured it was easy because of its relevance to my daily work life.
But when the day of the exam came, and despite the allotted time of four hours, I finished it in only 45 minutes.
I felt more than concerned. I checked my answers and knew that I had passed.
A zombie could have passed—and then gone on to become the leader of a school.
No wonder our public schools are in trouble.
Education Post recently released the results of its 2015 Parent Attitudes Survey, which detailed how parents feel about the current state of public education and their top goals for improvements.
The findings suggest that parents’ education priorities include supporting teachers and removing ineffective ones from the classroom.
While of course it makes sense to ensure that classrooms are led only by competent educators, it’s not teachers who are responsible when ineffective teachers remain in classrooms. If the bar for becoming a teacher was as high as it is to become a lawyer or doctor, and the job was appropriately compensated, the conversation about “bad” teachers wouldn’t be at the forefront of discussions about education.
The reality for schools across the country is that, effectively serving students is an issue both of ensuring a qualified candidate pool along with progressive thinking in school leadership.
Similarly, and maybe even more important, if the job of leading those teachers was treated with the respect it deserves, only the best and the brightest would be hired.
It is unacceptable that our profession sets the bar so low when the stakes are so high.
As today’s students are next year’s leaders, teaching them to think and lead should be the single most important job in our country. As such, earning the right to do so must also be viewed with similar credibility.
Zombies shouldn’t be preparing our students for the world ahead—excellent teachers and principals should.