Michigan Teacher Preparation Institutions have long used a basic skills entrance exam to screen incoming applicants to their teacher education programs. For many years, the MTTC Basic Skills Test served this purpose. This test was replaced by the Pearson Professional Readiness Exam in 2014, a more challenging test that resulted in extremely low pass rates across the state–on average, about 30 percent of prospective teachers passed all three sections of the PRE on the first attempt. With pressure mounting from state colleges of education and professional organizations–and in light of a statewide teacher shortage–the Michigan Department of Education discontinued use of the PRE in 2016, substituting the SAT as the basic skills entrance exam. Now that test is also under scrutiny, as the Michigan House Education Reform Committee has approved a bill that would eliminate its use altogether.
The legislation, sponsored by Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy), is intended to remove barriers to becoming a teacher. Teachers would still need to pass subject-area standardized tests (the MTTC subject area exams) in order to receive certification. While the bill has received support from select teacher preparation institutions such as Eastern Michigan and Saginaw Valley, critics see it as another attempt to undermine traditional certification routes in favor of alternative programs such as Teachers of Tomorrow, an online, inter-state organization that was approved as certifying in Michigan in 2017. Currently, individuals certified via Teachers of Tomorrows are still required to pass the SAT to receive their permanent teaching certificate. The bill eliminating the SAT would end this requirement.