Iowa bill could make it easier to be a school teacher

Published: Mar. 7, 2018 at 5:59 PM CST
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A bill in the state legislature would make it easier to become a school teacher here in Iowa.

It would get rid of requirements for teachers to pass standardized tests to get a license. The Iowa House approved the proposal yesterday. The reason teachers take the test is similar to why students take standardized tests, to make sure teachers know what they are teaching. Getting rid of it could help ease a teaching shortage in Iowa, but critics said the tests are important.

"I don't know that it measures a teacher's capability either because it's just a standardized test," said Jessica Brimeyer, a fifth grade teacher at Lone Tree Elementary.

First-year teacher Jessica Brimeyer passed the tests she needed to get her license, but she said the test alone doesn't tell the whole story.

"There definitely needs to be a balance between being able to relate to kids and also having that content knowledge," said Brimeyer.

Easing those requirements could have a benefit, making it easier for schools to find teachers and keep class sizes smaller. Brimeyer said that is a key part to good teaching.

"When you don't have the relationships with the students, it's much harder to get the content across," said Brimeyer.

"One of the things that's really important to the process is to make sure that they are as well trained and prepared as possible," said Stephen Murley, the superintendent of the Iowa City Community School District.

But proponents Murley said the testing sets a standard of excellence in the classroom.

"We want to make sure all of our students go through each grade level and each course at the secondary level fully prepared and ready for what comes next," said Murley.

In Lone Tree, where Brimeyer works, the principal said finding teachers is about more than just a test score.

"Have all the qualifications to be a teacher to go through those and find the candidates that we feel are suitable for our district," said Amber Jacque, the principal of Lone Tree Elementary.

Brimeyer agreed teachers should he held to a high standard, but measuring it is the difficult question.

"I definitely think there needs to be something to measure qualification because just like with any other profession you want to make sure people are qualified for that job," said Brimeyer.

The bill was approved on a vote of 55 to 42 and is headed to the Iowa Senate.