Tom Moore

Tom Moore

(Des Moines) -- The Iowa House and Senate have both approved a bill that would change the threshold for a test college graduates must take before becoming a teacher in the state.

Currently, those wishing to become teachers in Iowa must score in the 25th percentile or above nationally on tests for subject knowledge and teaching acumen. Under the measure approved by the legislature, the State Department of Education would be instructed to establish their own standards for what constitutes a passing grade on the exam, taking into consideration bordering states' standards and individual subjects. Representative Tom Moore -- a retired teacher from Griswold -- says the bill will help Iowa schools recruit new teachers.

"I'm encouraged by the hope that we will not lose nearly as many prospective teachers as a result of this test and that school districts will take advantage of the one-year licensure to help qualify quality, young teachers to pass this exam," said Moore.

The bill would also allow districts to hire a college graduate who did not pass the test, as long as they plan to retake it, for a period of one year.

"There is no data that can show the people who do not pass this test will not become good teachers," said Moore. "Likewise, it does not show that those who do pass this test will become good teachers. Some teachers who pass this exam wash out or are suited for teaching, while many who have problems with the exam could become highly effective instructors if only given the opportunity."

Moore says he doesn't believe a test score shows who will be a good teacher.

"I, for one, do not care to tell a student whose invested personally, emotionally and financially in a career in education that you're not good enough, even though your department of education has accredited you, but you're not good enough because you can't pass this standardized test," said Moore. "If this legislation doesn't produce the increase in those passing the exam like we hope it will, I will be back."

Moore was a teacher and coach for 33 years before his retirement. He says he believes he was an effective teacher and didn't have to take a test to get hired.

"We have in this chamber no less than six accomplished teacher that taught for no less than a cumulative 175 years," said Moore. "And yet, we were able to do that without passing this test."

Moore stated he would like to see the test abolished altogether, but that he supports the compromise. The bill passed the Senate unanimously last Wednesday and passed the House 71-to-28 Monday night. The bill now heads to Governor Reynolds for her signature.