Push to Repeal Basic Skills Test for Minn. Teachers

Updated: 02/18/2013 10:23 AM KSTP.com By: Jay Kolls

Thousands of teachers across Minnesota take the Basic Skills Test every year. They are required to pass it before they receive their license to teach. One lawmaker says about 20-percent of those teachers fail the exam. And now there's a bill in the House that would repeal the Basic Skills Test as a requirement for a teaching license. Some critics of the exam say it unfairly keeps highly qualified teachers out of the classroom.

The Minnetonka School District, for example, has two-thousand students and nearly 100 teachers in its foreign language immersion program. It is one of the state's largest immersion programs. But, the District says nearly 10-percent of the immersion teachers fail the Basic Skills Test. The District says they fail, in part, due to the fact many of them have only had two or three years of training in English, but are very qualified to teach a foreign language. The District would like to see the exam be a little more flexible in situations like foreign language immersion courses.

State Representative, Sondra Erickson, (R) Princeton, does not want to see the test requirement repealed. She taught in Minnesota schools, for more than three decades. Rep. Erickson says it is imperative that teachers pass the Basic Skills Test to ensure the quality of teaching in the state's classrooms remains high. The bill to repeal the Basic Skills Test is now in the House Education Committee, but has not yet been voted on.