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letters | diversity in teachers

Certification test poses obstacles

It was of great interest to me to read the article on the low diversity rates among future educators. As a retired public teacher and counselor and as a mentor at present to a number of young people attempting to qualify for the teaching certification, I am acutely aware that there is one factor that is repeatedly problematic. When any person of limited means takes the test and fails, it is a costly proposition.

The number of times required to retake the teacher certification test is often prohibitive. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education holds onto the taken test. Unlike certifications in other fields, those who do not pass the test are unable to see where to focus their study.

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I’ve known more than five aspirants of color and an equal number of white students who have given up, and another aspiring teacher who, after at least four attempts and loans from family, finally passed. As people of color are more likely to be of limited means, then it stands to reason that retaking the test multiple times is a barrier.

I have asked the education department for a review, and have gotten unenthusiastic responses. I’ve asked my legislators to look into this, with similar results. If the state is serious about the diversity of school staff, it must think seriously about the way it goes about the business of making this possible.

Stacy Amaral

Worcester

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