Tennessee could drop mandatory teacher’s test amid shortage

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A mandatory test for future teachers could be dropped, but not everyone agrees with this possibility.

In a recent October meeting, the Tennessee Board of Education (TBOE) considered removing the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (EdTPA) as a solution to combatting teacher shortages.

The EdTPA assesses teaching skills and is required for teacher candidates who don’t possess an undergraduate degree in teaching; however, there are concerns that doing away with the test would compromise teacher quality.

“All of this work is centered around ensuring that we have the best, brightest high-quality teachers in front of all of our students,” said State Board of Education Chair Lillian Hartgrove. “There’s nothing that we ever do that is intended to lower the level of the teachers who are in the classroom. We want to improve. We never want to degrade that, and we are certainly not trying to circumvent Ed-preparation,” said Hartgrove.

Talks of removing the performance assessment has garnered critics from both sides.

“I’m a terrible test taker and I don’t feel like that defines who I am,” said Lindsey Deberry, a University of Memphis education major. “I succeed in other ways, so I don’t think a test should define if I’m qualified enough to teach kids. That’s not fair.”

Meanwhile, critics say the test should continue to be implemented to assess the quality of candidates.

“You should keep the test because if the test shows who’s qualified you want to know who’s qualified for the job,” said University of Memphis student Michael Jolfaie.

At the beginning of the current school year, the state cited 2,000 teacher vacancies. While dropping the EdTPA requirement works to address this type of shortage, some are skeptical that the move would compromise teacher quality, while others said alternative routes are more beneficial overall.

“If a teacher has the college degree in education, I would feel comfortable whether they’ve taken an academic test or not,” said Christan Allen, a Memphis mom who told FOX13 she’d be comfortable with teachers who took advantage of alternative training, leading classrooms for her own child.

“There’s lots of ways to measure intelligence and whether or not they’re qualified. If they have an alternate background, they’ve never taught in the classroom, I would really prefer the schools to make sure that they are getting the training that they need than just throwing them in as first-time teachers.”

The board is scheduled to enter a final vote on whether to drop the EdTPA in February.