Last February, a new state law requiring all public school teachers to pass the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Basic Skills Test took effect.
The teacher licensing exams are currently only offered in English.
Parents of immersion students were concerned that the level of English proficiency required for the test is not basic and goes beyond conversational English.
Before the new law, public school teachers were already required to take the basic skills test but did not have to pass before they began teaching. Under the old law, would-be teachers who failed the test– as about 30 percent did– could get a three-year provisional license that allowed them to teach while trying to get a passing score.
"We hold our immersion teachers to the same high standards for hiring that we hold for our English teachers, but we do not expect nor want them to be teaching in English," wrote a concerned Minnetonka parent. "Our model is proving very effective, and we don’t want it negatively impacted.
A new bill giving immersion teachers an additional 36 months to pass the test, written by Minnetonka's Sen. Terri Bonoff and Rep. Yvonne Selcer, passed through the Education Policy committee last week without debate.
"These teachers, who are recruited from their native countries to teach our immersion students in their native language, are forced to pass a rigorous test in English," said Sen. Bonnoff. "Their classroom language expectations demand little English. Yet we place the burdensome requirement on them to pass a test in a language they have yet to master."
Should immersion teachers should have more time to pass the test? Why or why not? Please tell us why below.