Nebraska State Board of Education discusses revisiting certification for teachers to address shortages

Posted at 6:33 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-05 19:33:00-04

LINCOLN, Neb (KMTV) — The state needs more teachers but certain certification requirements could be getting in the way of filling open positions and the state board of ed discussed Friday whether some of those requirements need to change or be dropped entirely.

We usually think of teachers giving exams but they have to take some tests too.

Most of those come before they are allowed to step into the classroom.

but some feel those tests are what is keeping teachers out of the classroom more often than not.

“I hate the Praxis test. It is a bad test. It is a bad test. I have tutored people in the mathematics part, it is not what you want,” said one teacher who testified at Friday’s state board of education meeting.

It wasn’t just teachers in attendance who were frustrated, state board of education member Kirk Penner also questioned why certifications aren’t more flexible.

“My point is, you teach, you are taught how to teach. You pass your math Praxis two, what is taking you from taking your Praxis two in science,” said Penner.

There were several ideas discussed to make the certification process easier for prospective teachers.

Some suggested recognizing more teaching certificates from other states, adjusting what certifications are necessary to teach certain subjects and even dropping certain requirements entirely.

It was a lively discussion but not every member was excited about the idea of lowering the standards to become a teacher.

“I feel like you are walking down that road of watering down. A great teacher is a great teacher in their endorsed area but it doesn’t necessarily mean if they were asked to go to a different content area. Out of their endorsement, that they will be that great teacher,” said State Board of Education member Maureen Nickels.

Despite some reservations about changing certification the board generally agreed that it's a conversation they need to continue to re-visit but one member cautioned that they will need to look at more than certification to get Nebraska schools back to full staff.

“It's much more complex though than improving certification. It's much more difficult than that but it's still a great conversation and we will see some good things. We need good teachers,” said Stevens.

Friday’s meeting was just a board business meeting and no specific action was taken. The board will begin their regular meetings again next month.

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