Does cultural bias shape the teacher licensing process?
- Metropolitan State University Dean of Urban Education René Antrop-González and assistant professor Nicholas D. Hartlep write in Diverse Issues about the failings of Minnesota's Professional Educator and Licensing Standards Board to adopt teacher licensure programs which reflect the diverse nature of applicants and students.
- The Board currently allows prospective teachers to use ACT or SAT scores in reading, writing, and math as a substitute for scores achieved on the National Education Series (NES) to qualify for licensure. According to Antrop-González and Hartlep, the ACT, SAT and NEWS are biased against non-American, non-English speaking test takers in the state, and the Board's current credentialing structure puts more than 97% of Metropolitan State graduates at a professional disadvantage, as this is the percentage of students who finish at MSU after transferring from a community or technical college who were not required to take college entrance examinations.
- The writers paint a grim picture of the role cultural bias plays in limiting opportunities for students of color in Minnesota. "For instance, extended time is covered by the ADA for licensure exams. However, being a non-native English speaker is not a disability. NES allows test takers for whom English is their second, third or fourth languages to apply for extended time. However, applying for such an accommodation is arduous in that a letter must be provided on institution letterhead ,and various confusing online forms also must be filled out and submitted for approval."
Presidents, deans and faculty members should stick up for their students in every industrial, academic and cultural context which they might be placed at a disadvantage. This process not only endears leadership to the current student body, but positions leaders to more effectively recruit future students and engage alumni and supporting advocates from surrounding communities.
But, the specific subject of professional credentialing is a sensitive one which requires schools to invest in researching and developing alternatives. It is difficult to lobby for wholesale changes to professional licensure which were designed generations ago for a predominantly white population, and which only have been amended and are enforced to accommodate a small, but growing population of non-white male citizens.
For Metropolitan State and other campuses facing challenges in building professional pipelines for specific student groups, public advocacy is an effective tool; but it must complement legislative lobbying, research-based solutions, and corporate support from industries which need the workforce and want to develop it at specific campuses. Examples of this kind of advocacy ecosystem include California's Community Colleges, and internationally, workforce development models in Germany.
- Diverse Issues in Higher Education Cultural biases persist in national licensure exam for teachers
- Education Dive California Community Colleges envision workforce development 2.0
- Education Dive Could German vocational model be a standard for US workforce development?