The American Federation of Teachers has issued a report advocating an entry exam for all teacher candidates, like the bar exam taken by aspiring lawyers.
The test, which would be required of all future teachers nationwide, would be given to candidates regardless of whether they are entering the profession through traditional means or "an alternative route."
The AFT report titled "Raising the Bar: Aligning and Elevating Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession" included a statement by AFT president Randi Weingarten: "We must do away with a common rite of passage, whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they (and their students) sink or swim. Such a haphazard approach to the complex and crucial enterprise of educating children is wholly inadequate. It's unfair to both students and teachers, who want and need to be well-prepared to teach from their first day on the job. At a time when we are raising the standards for students through the Common Core State Standards, we must do the same for teachers."
The report suggests that the exam be multidimensional and include subject knowledge as well as pedagogical knowledge. In other words, in addition to having to know the subject they teach, teachers would have to demonstrate that they had the qualities to be "caring, competent and confident."
The report also states the responsibility for setting professional standards and establishing quality teacher preparation programs should reside with K-12 educators and teacher-educators.
Currently, teacher certification is determined by the individual states in which the teacher will hold a license; requirements vary widely. Many states have different types of certification that require exams, practice teaching, and college courses. All 50 states require at least a Bachelor's Degree and some clinical experience as minimum requirements for licensure.
The American Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO that represents more than 1.5 million members, according to the union's website.