EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Bill that would remove competency test requirement for teachers looks ready to pass

Feb 27, 2024, 9:34 AM

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Sixth grade students listen to their teacher during Utah studies class at Evergreen Junior High School in Millcreek on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY–Teachers in Utah have to pass a competency test before they can take over a classroom. A bill could remove that test requirement entirely.

Representative Norm Thurston, R-Provo, said he’s pushing H.B. 208 because he wants to give more people the chance to teach.

“You’ve got kids from disadvantaged backgrounds who would love to be teachers but the idea of spending five years getting [their] college degree, having debt associated with that [dissuades them]” said Thurston.

Utah teacher shortage

A teacher shortage has impacted Utah more severely than other states. In terms of the number of teachers per 1,000 students, Utah is second-to-last nationwide, according to a study by Scholaroo.

That study shows Utah has 44.2 teachers for every 1,000 students. For comparison, Vermont tops the list with 97.6 teachers per 1,000 students.

Opposition to the bill

However, not all educators are convinced the bill is a good idea. The bill would remove a test used to measure classroom competence.

Travis Rawlings, the Associate Director of Licensing and Human Relations for Granite School District, spoke on the bill during its House committee hearing on February 8.

“When we start talking about ‘how do I demonstrate competency?’ ‘How do I show that I know what it takes to be a teacher?’ independent of any type of bias … ‘The way you do that is with a valid and reliable assessment. And that assessment is a pedagogical performance assessment,” said Rawlings.

Utah Education Association President Renee Pinkney told the Salt Lake Tribune that removing the requirement for a classroom management test could put unqualified teachers at the front of classrooms.

Opposition aside, this bill looks ready to pass into law. It now awaits a vote in the Senate.

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Bill that would remove competency test requirement for teachers looks ready to pass