Re-testing for results?

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Ohio has come up with a new solution for turning around failing schools: re-test the teachers. Teachers from schools in the bottom decile will have to pass the same assessment of content knowledge that they had to pass to earn their license in the first place.

Now, we're all for teachers knowing their subjects (check out the standards for our national review). But we have to wonder: does Ohio think that teachers in underperforming schools forgot what they knew when they joined the profession? And will passing these tests — which Ohio itself acknowledges only demonstrates mastery of the "minimal content knowledge necessary for entry-level positions" — show that the teachers have what they need to take on the extremely difficult turnaround challenge?

What we think is really the issue is that Ohio is not setting the bar high enough for all teachers. Check out this chart from our State Teacher Policy Yearbook:

With the bar set so low, there's a huge spread in the level of teacher knowledge in Ohio. And from what we know across the country, it wouldn't be surprising if the teachers at the low end of the range did in fact cluster in the schools facing the greatest challenges. But testing them again, using the same cut score, won't weed many poor performers out. Ohio should take a page from Massachusetts' book, set the floor on what teachers need to know before they're licensed high enough so that all children are provided with the well-prepared teachers they deserve.

Graham Drake