82% of PSS teachers ‘highly qualified’


mvariety.com

Wednesday, June 08, 2011 12:00AM – By Emmanuel T. Erediano – Reporter

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THE Public School System says its teacher certification process is a success, adding that 82 percent of its teachers are now “highly qualified.”

Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan and Public School System federal programs officer Tim Thornburgh smile during a meeting with lawmakers in the House chamber yesterday. Contributed photoPSS teachers must pass the Praxis tests, one of the “highly qualified teacher” requirements, before July 31 this year.

In a meeting with the House Committee on Education yesterday, Education Commissioner  Rita A. Sablan said PSS ensured that its teachers would meet the HQT requirements.

Lawmakers praised PSS.

“This is very impressive. I would like to take the opportunity to express appreciation to the Public School System, the Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education for making things happen for our children,” Rep. Teresita A. Santos, Ind.-Rota, said.

“This is something that we should (be proud of),” said Rep. Ramon S. Basa, Covenant-Saipan.

PSS-BOE officials also updated lawmakers  about the challenges that the school system is facing these days.

Last April, 90-day notices were issued to public school personnel who still had to take and pass Praxis.

Since 2006, PSS and BOE have been helping personnel prepare for the tests and meet the other HQT requirements.

“It is imperative that we hire those that have met all requirements to be highly qualified,” Sablan said.

Lawmakers were also updated about the schools’ accreditation, ARRA funding and PSS accountability to student learning.

While CNMI public education funding per student remains low compared to that of other states and territories, PSS said it has continuously raised the bar of student learning.

“Each child in the U.S. receives about $12,000 per year for his or her educational needs. The CNMI child receives an average of $6,500 per year for education even as our SAT scores meet standards. Despite the resources we have, we are doing fairly well to ensuring our children are educated,” PSS federal programs officer Tim Thornburg said.

PSS said records show that for the last five years, the Stanford Achievement Test results of  public school students continue to rise. In school year 2003-2004, it was at the 20 percentile rank. Currently, it is pegged at 45 percent.

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