Pass or Fail: We Need Better Teacher Hiring Standards

In this multi-part series, I provide a dissection of the phenomenon of retention and social promotion. Also, I describe the many different methods that would improve student instruction in classrooms and eliminate the need for retention and social promotion if combined effectively.

While reading this series, periodically ask yourself this question: Why are educators, parents and the American public complicit in a practice that does demonstrable harm to children and the competitive future of the country?

We need to hire better teachers. Period. That starts with better teacher training. The idea of identifying qualified, appropriately trained teachers, and then ensuring that they engage in continued education and training during their career, requires adjustments to hiring standards and implementation of employment models that may be different from the polices and models currently in place.

One very basic change requires is that all teachers be certified. This would affect quite a significant number of existing teachers, of course. A second needed change is a requirement that teachers have experience and specific knowledge training in the subject or subjects they teach, especially at the high school level. In other words, any teacher who is teaching mathematics must have a degree in the field. The basic argument is that teachers must demonstrate that they can teach students the knowledge and skills and that they can teach them in the context of a broader, enriched curriculum, one that truly affords students a rounded education, rather than an education that teaches to tests.

The idea that anyone with a basic college education can act as an effective teacher is flawed; not everyone has what it takes to teach successfully, particularly without specification. Instead of hiring teachers out of desperation, districts must take the time to apply due diligence to the process. We would not let a basic college graduate with no bookkeeping experience do the accounting for our schools – so why would we ever allow teachers in the classroom that are not exclusively qualified?

School districts have to ensure that the teachers they hire have viable classroom experience, and also that they have the relevant theoretical knowledge to be able to effectively problem-solve, addressing the needs of all students in the classroom. This is such a key point to eliminating retention and social promotion issues – and it means more children learning at optimal levels.

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