Socialists: a 3rd way for teacher grade requirement
The Socialists (Sosialistisk Venstreparti) propose a third way regarding the disputed character requirements for becoming a teacher in Norway. The compromise entails maintaining the Government’s requirement for the grade 4 (out of 6) in mathematics – but open up for applicants with 4 as their average grade as well.
The Socialists, together with the Centre Party (Senterpartiet) and Labour (Arbeiderpartiet), have long fought against the mathematics requirement for the teacher education, which the Government introduced in the autumn of 2016. The party now proposes a compromise to solve the dispute:
Keep the Government’s requirement of at least grade 4 in mathematics, but also allow applicants with a grade of at least 4 on average to enter, even if they end up with a mediocre 3 in mathematics. Applicants must currently achieve a 4 in mathematics and score at least 3.5 overall.
“With this proposal, we have moved politically, and we hope that the Government parties will be interested in compromising with us,” the Socialists’ Education Policy spokesperson, Mona Fagerås, tells NTB.
The proposal is, however, voted down by the Government parties in the Education Committee of the Norwegian Parliament on Tuesday.
“It is very disappointing, especially since the proposal is based on professional advice,” Fagerås responds.
Would have provided 600 more teacher students
The proposal was initially launched by the Norwegian University and College Council during a hearing in the Parliament before Christmas.
“We are concerned about the lack of teachers and have been concerned with finding different approaches that can provide larger admission to the teacher education. This without reducing the quality of the applicants,” Leader of the University and College Council for Teacher Education, Svenning Bjørke, informs NTB.
Bjørke adds that the proposal will provide close to 600 more qualified applicants.
Education spokesperson for the Conservatives (Høyre) at The Norwegian Parliament, Turid Kristiansen, explains that the Government parties voted against the proposal because they believe it will mean retreating on an important quality-increasing measure for both the teachers and school system of Norway.
“The Socialists are by and large against all quality raising measures in the Norwegian school,” Kristiansen quips.
The mathematics grade is not the most important
Kristiansen asserts that it is important to keep the requirement for a 4 in mathematics, as teacher education has for a long time struggling with many students failing the subject and, therefore, doesn’t complete their study.
A thesis from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) shows, however, that the mathematics grade doesn’t have any particular significance for how well a student is doing in the teacher study as such, compared to the grades achieved in the other subjects.
“I had expected the Conservatives to be willing to listen to professional advice and conduct a responsible and knowledge-based policy,” Fagerås retorts.
Turid Kristiansen is not familiar with that specific study. She emphasises that the Conservatives are very concerned with gathering lots of knowledge when it designs its school policy.
Shortage of teachers
The grade proposal was part of a package of 13 proposals from the Socialists for a national effort to bring more teachers into the school. Every single one was rejected by the majority of the committee on Tuesday.
Fagerås is very concerned about the chronic teacher shortage in Norwegian schools.
“The proportion who teach in primary schools without approved teacher education has increased by 40 per cent since the bourgeois Government took over in 2013. The pupils are the losers when the Government sticks to failed symbol politics,” she believes.
Forecasts from Statistics Norway (SSB) reveal that Norway will be short of close to 3,500 teaching man-years in 2020.
Kristiansen says the Government is also concerned about the shortage of teachers. She emphasises, however, that it has introduced a number of measures to increase recruitment to the profession.
“The answer is not to lower the quality, as the Socialists always advocate. The introduction of five-years masters and increased grade requirements is just the kind of measure that makes teacher education attractive to more key applicants,” Kristiansen concludes.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today