WHITE BEAR LAKE — Minnesota employers are not looking for workers who are “really good at filling in ovals” on standardized tests, Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher said during an Oct. 23 K-12 Luncheon Series event at Century College.
“They want people who are creative problem solvers,” Dooher added. He urged less focus on test scores and more on promoting effective teaching and growing collaborations between K-12 and higher education.
“Give teachers the time and resources they need to improve their craft,” he said. “Teachers need good coaches, they need professional development and they need to be evaluated regularly.”
A state law that mandates new teacher evaluation systems needs to be carefully implemented, Dooher said.
“Some teachers go decades without being evaluated or coached,” he said. “Teachers need regular feedback. They need to constantly improve. Done right, a new evaluation system will improve teaching across the state. Done wrong, it will do a lot of harm.”
Asked about the future of teaching, Dooher said,: “I am an optimist. I am hoping we can get to the point where we are well respected again, and paid a liveable wage.”
He noted that Finland managed to turn its economy around by investing in education and making teaching one of the most respected occupations in the country. Their motto is “Trust through professionalism,” and the country has no state standardized testing program, Dooher said.