No basic skills waivers for the Hoosier State

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What do you do about prospective teachers who can't seem to pass the state's required basic skills test? Waive the requirement, as long as they almost passed, according to a bill passed by both houses of the Indiana state legislature.

The bill, wisely vetoed by Governor Mitch Daniels, would have permitted teacher candidates who failed the basic skills test by three points or less to be licensed as long as they completed all other program requirements and had faculty recommendations.

In defense of his proposal--which would have allowed teachers in classrooms although they had not demonstrated the middle school level reading and math skills that these tests assess--Representative Vernon Smith claimed it's all about the "standard measure of error. With any standardized test there is a number of points that is considered the deviation in that test."

This reasoning discounts that Indiana, like all states, sets its own passing score and presumably considered measurement error when doing so. Allowing wiggle room around the minimum score needed to pass (already egregiously low in states) also signals an inappropriate shift in authority from the state board of education to the state legislature, never mind the damage done to teacher quality. As the governor aptly put it in his veto statement, "this legislation heads in exactly the wrong direction."