by Krystal Paco
Guam - 44 Department of Education teachers may lose their jobs come December 1 if they don't pass the Praxis-I certification test. And the Guam Education Board is split on the fate of these teachers.
"We are here to set our standards high we are here to assure that we have qualified individuals working with our students only because we have very sad rates of SAT-10 results, and the expectations for the teachers is that they must pass the reading sub-tests at 173, the writing at 170, and the mathematics at 170," said Guam Commission for Educator Certification vice chair Margie Artero. But she stresses that the minimum scores are attainable.
However, board member Joe San Agustin disagrees, saying, "On the issue when you talk about the SAT-10, as the Council talks about higher standards, what percentage has gone up in the SAT-10 since all the Praxis test? Nothing, generally nothing. So when we say all our teachers are better because they pass the Praxis, it doesn't mean anything. It's how the teaching is being presented, right? And if you look at the 44 teachers, can the Department of Education actually say these 44 teachers are not worthy of being kept?"
Fellow board member Dr. Jose Cruz agrees, and believes keeping these teachers in the classroom doesn't mean the department is lowering its standards. "When you look at the other states, we have standards that are higher. So no one can really tell us we're lowering the standards. I call your attention to this one teacher whom we actually in our own recommendation should not be allowed but because the teacher had only 165 in reading but his math is 180," he said.
These 44 teachers represent 2.5 percent of DOE's total teacher workforce - what some board members say isn't enough to change certification standards."
Member Barry Mead said, "I look at the length of time that these folks have been here and understand that these folks were grandfathered and given how many years to raise their scores? Are we going to say that these 44 should be given a special circumstance when all the rest of the folks that we have as teachers have met the standard?"
Because the board's vote was split on how to handle the situation, they've passed the decision onto superintendent Jon Fernandez, who previously expressed he desire to maintain the standards. The superintendent also wants to provide the effected teachers with options, including ways to continue employment with the department. "I will now be sitting down with each of them and exploring their options with the purview of the department to determine what happens if they fail to meet those requirements," he said.