by Krystal Paco
Guam - A little more than 40 Department of Education teachers are looking for a lifeline from the Guam Education Board and superintendent Jon Fernandez. These teachers have their jobs at stake if they don't pass the required Praxis-I certification test by December 1.
Before the island's teachers can step into the classroom, they have to pass the Praxis-I test to meet certification requirements. But 44 have fallen through the cracks and have been teaching for years without making the minimum grade of 173 in reading, 170 in writing, and 170 in math.
Now they have an ultimatum: pass the praxis by December 1 or possibly lose their jobs.
According to GEB member Rosie Tainatongo, who met with teachers last week, the added pressure isn't going to help these teachers who are only points shy of passing and are now looking to the board and Fernandez for a resolution to board policy that requires the reading score to stand alone, but allows for writing and math scores to be composite scores. Taitatongo explained, "A lot of these teachers are only failing the reading portion, so what's happening is they're asking can we do a composite score, meaning there's three sections to the tests - reading, language arts, and math.
"They're asking can we do a composite score adding all three scores and coming up with one composite score, and the cutoff of that composite score is 513 points."
Teachers are also requesting for more time. Instead of having to pass by December 1, they ask that the deadline be extended to summer. But Fernandez tells KUAM News that although he's willing to work with these uncertified teachers to come into compliance, the deadline stands. After all, even if the board approved a resolution with five votes, the Guam Commission for Educator Certification and the Guam Legislature must also be willing to grant the extension.
There are concerns, however, as taking over 40 teachers out of the classroom would only mean replacing them with substitute teachers because there isn't a pool of readily available teachers for hire - which Tainatongo says isn't a solution either. "These are all good teachers their evaluations were very good above average and outstanding so it doesn't mean that because you don't pass the test, that you're not a good teacher," she explained.